The Book of Mormon — the biggest, most blasphemous hit on Broadway — will make its way to PlayhouseSquare for a three-week engagement as the centerpiece of the 2012-2013 season, the performing arts center announced Tuesday.
“The Book of Mormon is the hottest show on Broadway. It’s sold out weeks in advance,” said Gina Vernaci, senior vice president of theater operations at PlayhouseSquare. “I think it is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. I was laughing so hard I thought I was going to be hauled out on a stretcher.”
The show, a collaboration between the creators of South Park and Avenue Q, is irreverent and profane but has a heart of gold. It lampoons both organized religion and traditional musical theater through the story of two naive young missionaries who work in a Ugandan village ruled by a brutal warlord.
The Book of Mormon will close the seven-show PlayhouseSquare season June 18 through July 7, 2013. It’s part of a well-varied season of national tours — with five of those shows still playing on Broadway.
Among them is the international hit Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which follows three drag queens through the Australian outback en route to a big gig at a casino.
Vernaci describes the show: “This is an outrageously glittery, eye-popping feast that is suitable for a Lady Gaga concert,” yet at the same time tells a heartwarming story about a group of outsiders.
In other season highlights, PlayhouseSquare will open the national tour of the Cole Porter classic Anything Goes, also currently playing on Broadway; and will rock the house with the first U.S. tour of Sister Act, another current Broadway offering, based on the Whoopi Goldberg movie.
The offerings will shift for the drama War Horse — winner of five 2011 Tony Awards including best play — which is told through the eyes of a horse in World War I. The drama, which Vernaci says feels like a musical in its scope, also is currently playing on Broadway. The show’s life-sized horse puppets make the production a rarity.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever see this production as it’s told again,” Vernaci said.
Rounding out the season will be the family favorite Beauty and the Beast, whose original creative team has been reassembled for the tour. The classic fairy tale, which was Disney’s first Broadway show, ran on the Great White Way for more than 13 years.
Finally, PlayhouseSquare and Great Lakes Theater will team up to produce Guys and Dolls in the intimate Hanna Theater in May 2013. Local producers chose the classic musical about high-rolling gamblers to coincide with the real-life opening of a casino in Cleveland.
“It’s a classic Broadway musical and it’s going to be very timely for Cleveland when the Horseshoe Casino comes to the former Higbee Building down the street,” from PlayhouseSquare, Vernaci said.
Here’s the full season lineup:
• Anything Goes, Oct. 2-14. Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Anything Goes is winner of three 2011 Tony Awards, including best musical revival and choreography! The national tour will star Rachel York as Reno Sweeney. Cole Porter’s comedy is peppered with memorable standards, including I Get a Kick out of You, You’re the Top and the title song. See www.AnythingGoesTheMusical.com.
• Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Nov. 6-18. The musical, based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature, is a classic musical love story filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers. It tells the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end. See www.BeautyAndTheBeastOnTour.com.
• Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Jan. 15-27, 2013. Producer Bette Midler presents the show about a trio of friends on a road trip. They hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the Australian outback and end up finding more than they ever dreamed. The show features more than 500 dazzling, Tony Award-winning costumes and 1970s and ’80s dance-floor favorites including It’s Raining Men, Finally and I Will Survive. Recommended for ages 13 and up due to mature language and situations. See www.priscillaonbroadway.com.
• Sister Act, March 5-17, 2013. The musical comedy features original music by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken in the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva who witnesses a crime and the cops hide her a convent. Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she rediscovers her own. See www.sisteractbroadway.com.
• War Horse, April 9-21, 2013. England, 1914. As World War I begins, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He’s caught up in enemy fire, and serves on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. Albert, still not old enough to enlist, embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home. Life-sized puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company bring to life breathing, galloping, charging horses strong enough for men to ride. See www.WarHorseOnStage.com.
• Guys and Dolls, May 1-June 23, 2013. Co-produced with Great Lakes Theater, the Tony Award-winning musical comedy is based on a story and characters by Damon Runyon, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. Set in vivid, mid-20th century New York City, the American classic features an eclectic ensemble of gambler “guys,” well-meaning missionary “dolls” and brassy-voiced showgirls.
• The Book of Mormon, June 18-July 7, 2013. Winner of nine 2011 Tony Awards, including best musical, the Broadway phenomenon is described by Vogue as “the funniest musical of all time” and by the New York Times as “the best musical of this century.” The musical is penned by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez. Contains explicit language. See www.BookofMormonTheMusical.com.
Season tickets to the 2012-2013 KeyBank Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare are available at 216-830-7221 or www.PlayhouseSquare.org/broadway. The seven-show season ticket package ranges from $85 to $540 per seat.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org