“The Book of Mormon” has taken Broadway by storm. After months of sold out shows, nine Tony Awards and fervid praise, “Mormon” is preparing for its next big endeavor: winning over Chicago. Beginning in December, 2012, “Mormon” will commence a preliminary 12-week run of shows in the Bank of America Theatre.
This brief stint may seem overly cautious given the overwhelming success of the musical, but it’s standard operating procedure for Chicago’s veteran theatre producers who have made it their business to successfully transplant Broadway hits to the Midwest. Although this is undoubtedly a huge windfall for Chicago, the “Windy City” won’t be the only new home for the “South Park” creators’ newest production.
The national tour of “Mormon” will begin in Denver in August, 2012. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-creators of “South Park,” are steadfast in their decision to oversee each and every staging of their hit musical. The dates of Chicago’s inaugural performance and the national tour have been carefully organized around South Park production schedules in order to ensure that Stone and Parker can take an active role in each of their new, ambitious ventures.
Although the spectacle and dazzle of a typical Broadway show can quickly put a dent in producers’ bank accounts, “Mormon” is a relatively inexpensive affair compared to many of its peers. Costing roughly $9 million, the production has the potential to generate upwards of $100 million in gross ticket sales during its run in Chicago.
History has shown that audiences in the Midwest approach theater with a decidedly more conservative inclination. It is not uncommon for shows involving controversial language to be “softened” for audiences who many take offense. Parker and Stone have made the decision to leave the original “Mormon” book intact. Chicago will have to decide for itself whether “The Book of Mormon” deserves a shot at success in their neck of the woods.