The Book of Mormon: A Hugely Popular Musical in a Small Theater
Big Broadway productions are big for two reasons. First, from the view point of the audience, they are over the top, meant to whisk the spectators away to a land of song, dance, merriment, and sometimes emotionally moving scenes. Second, from the perspective of the producers, they want to make a big buck off these lavish sets and stories. The Book of Mormon is a perfect example of one of those Big Broadway musicals that leaves both parties blithely intoxicated so get your Book of Mormon discount tickets today before they get to expensive for you to enjoy the show.
According to a Variety article called “‘Mormon’ Sales Aim for Heaven,” the Book of Mormon has set the venue record for ticket sales for the 12th straight week, bringing in $1,265,309 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. The show’s impressive draw really is the result of a perfect storm of factors.
First, the Book of Mormon is able to attract a non-traditional audience thanks to two of the names on the creative list, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Anyone who has followed their career has noted their penchant for big musical numbers, including moving scenes in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police. This is simply the first time the duo has collaborated on a live stage musical. Still, their involvement surely intrigues an audience that would normally simply avoid the theater district.
Second, the Book of Mormon just took home eight Tony Awards after being nominated for 13. Those wins include Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score. The production already enjoyed high praise and national interest, but the addition of some very impressive awards are only going to convince more people to attend a show at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. This increase interest drives ticket prices higher, as is evident in the Variety article. Gordon Cox, the author of the article, writes that the non-premium price tag for seats to the show have increased to $153 at the official box office in the last week. Salt Lake City ABC 4 reporter Chris Vanocur confirms those findings, noting, in his July 11th article documenting his trip to NYC to see the show, the ticket prices have increased to over $200 on secondary ticket sources around the web.
Third, the Book of Mormon musical is playing at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. The theater is well within the seating parameters of an official Broadway stage, but has far from the capacity of a theater like the Gershwin, where Wicked resides. This is most likely in part because the trio of creative talent (Parker, Stone, and Avenue Q creator Robert Lopez) skipped a tryout run, which surely made venue owners and financial backers nervous. The Eugene O’Neill Theatre was most likely a compromise, between mitigating risk factors and the acknowledgement that the South Park team could court a different audience. The rather limited capacity of 1,049 a night is helping to drive up those ticket prices and force many to postpone their trip to the show, elongating the show’s sold out run.
Now, the show may very well have been equally as successful in a larger venue, but the combination of interest from a previously alien audience, buzz after the Tony Awards, and a smaller venue have certainly aided the show. To steal a strategy from another industry, it is better to book a smaller venue and fill it than to book a larger venue and play to a half filled room.