Arts & Culture

‘Book of Mormon’ coming to Wichita

“The Book of Mormon” is coming to Wichita as part of the 2015-16 Theater League season.
“The Book of Mormon” is coming to Wichita as part of the 2015-16 Theater League season. Courtesy photo

The Theater League kicks off its 10th anniversary season of bringing touring Broadway shows to Wichita’s Century II with the Tony-winning “The Book of Mormon.”

“It’s the most popular show touring right now. Wherever we present it, it sells out 110 percent,” said Mark Edelman, president of the Kansas City-based Theater League. “We are particularly excited because the people in Wichita will be seeing a show that’s still on Broadway at the same time.”

Even better, Edelman said, the run for “The Book of Mormon” will be extended to eight performances, including matinees, from the usual three evening performances. That puts it in the “big show” category of Theater League offerings like “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Jersey Boys.”

“It’s been a long time since a musical has caught fire like this. It’s from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the brilliant satirists behind ‘South Park,’ and Robert Lopez, irreverent co-creator of ‘Avenue Q.’ It has some adult language and controversial religious themes. But it’s also an old-fashioned boy-meets-girl love story, and it has really good music,” Edelman said. “It’s like Rodgers and Hammerstein writing ‘South Park.’ ”

“The Book of Mormon” will play during Thanksgiving week. Joining “Mormon” on the 2015-16 schedule are the Tony Award record-setter “The Producers” in January 2016 plus regional premieres of “Flashdance the Musical” in March 2016 and the Vegas-inspired, 1960s-era “Rat Pack Show” created by and starring Sandy Hackett, son of the late comic Buddy Hackett, in April 2016.

A bonus fifth show, also in April 2016, will be the newest offering from “Blue Man Group,” which was last here in 2012. While it is not part of the four-show package, season-ticket holders may substitute it for one of the other shows or receive priority ticketing if they want to see all five shows, Edelman said.

Season tickets range from $105 to $275 for four shows.

Current season-ticket holders may renew now through the WichitaTIX box office in Century II or by calling 316-303-8100. New season-ticket orders are also being accepted now and will be put on a priority list. Individual show tickets won’t be available until later this summer.

Here’s a closer look at the offerings:

“The Book of Mormon” (Nov. 24-29): Winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical of 2011, this outrageous romp follows the misadventures of two naive Mormon missionaries who prayed to be sent to Orlando but ended up in war-torn Uganda, where the dirt-poor inhabitants are more concerned with brutal warlords, famine and disease than religion. When the two don’t have the right scriptural answers to help, they blithely make them up, leading to a hilarious day of reckoning. But what else would you expect from those clever, fearless “South Park” equal-opportunity offenders, Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

“The Producers” (Jan. 19-21, 2016): The all-time Tony record holder with 12 wins, including best musical of 2001, this deliciously giddy Mel Brooks masterpiece (based on his own 1968 movie farce) tells of a down-on-his-luck producer and his skittish accountant, who hatch a sure-fire, get-rich-quick scheme to oversell shares in a guaranteed Broadway flop, then pocket the investment when the show closes on opening night. But when “Springtime for Hitler” unexpectedly becomes a huge hit, their “success” could land them in prison when investors come for their profits.

“Flashdance the Musical” (March 1-3, 2016): This 2008 London musical, based on the 1983 American cult dance movie that made an overnight star of Jennifer Beals, tells the inspiring (and sexy) story of a young Pittsburgh woman who works as a welder by day but cuts loose as a steamy bar dancer by night to earn money to attend a prestigious dance academy. It’s a high-energy show using some of the same music made famous in the movie – Oscar-winning “Flashdance: What a Feeling,” “Maniac,” “Gloria” – fleshed out with original songs by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary.

“Sandy Hackett’s ‘Rat Pack Show’ ” (April 12-14, 2016): Ol’ Blue Eyes, Dino, Sammy and Joey are back from beyond (shades of “Forever Plaid”) to re-create the hip, cool, Vegas experience of a 1960s show at the Sands Hotel, using many of their classic hits like “Luck Be a Lady,” “Mack the Knife,” “For Once in My Life” and “That’s Amore.” The show was created by Sandy Hackett, son of the late, great comic Buddy Hackett, to give younger audiences the chance to experience the legendary camaraderie of crooners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. woven together with the comic patter of Joey Bishop (played by Sandy Hackett himself).

Bonus: “Blue Man Group” (April 26-27, 2016): Founded in 1987, this is a unique blend of comedy, music, technology, imagination and even a little multimedia magic as three bald, blue-skinned aliens wordlessly put together wildly inventive, percussive musical instruments from pipes, buckets, tubes, duct tape and anything else they can get their hands on. And then, they enthusiastically play them, accompanied by flashing lights and, often, splashing water.

If You Go

2015-16 Theater League Season

What: “The Book of Mormon” (Nov. 24-29), “The Producers” (Jan. 19-21, 2016), “Flashdance the Musical” (March 1-3, 2016) and “Sandy Hackett’s ‘Rat Pack Show’ ” (April 12-14, 2016); bonus: “Blue Man Group” (April 26-27, 2016)

Where: Century II Concert Hall, 225 W. Douglas

Season tickets: $105-$265 for four shows on Tuesdays; $115-$275 for four shows on Wednesdays-Thursdays; available at WichitaTIX at 316-303-8100 or Individual show tickets not available until later this summer.

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