The Book of Mormon was the brainchild of two Coloradans, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who first burst on the national scene with South Park. But other locals also got lucky with the musical. Longtime Denver lobbyist Leo Boyle actually invested in it. "It's one of the few things I've done right in my life," he says. "It was sheer luck."
When the show's producers were looking for investors, a lawyer from back east who'd interned here when he was a law student asked Boyle if he'd be interested in investing in a new Broadway musical. "I didn't know you could invest," Boyle says. He was interested enough to ask for the investment package, because even though he'd been an economics major at Regis University, "I knew nothing about the economics of Broadway musicals -- except that most of them don't work out." And the package did nothing to change that thought.
So he wasn't tempted by the offer -- until he caught Andrew Sullivan, former editor of the New Republic, on Chris Matthews's Hardball show, talking about how the big musical of the upcoming season wouldn't be Spiderman, but The Book of Mormon. While Boyle didn't trust his own instincts about East Coast tastes, he thought Sullivan might have an ear for what would fly, and he managed to invest in the musical just before the cut-off.
And when the show opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City in March 2011, Boyle was in the audience - along with Sullivan, who he introduced himself to. Columnist Maureen Dowd was there, too -- another hero, Boyle says, and the three Irish Catholics agreed that the musical could just as easily have been about Catholicism as Mormonism.
And when Mormon opened in Denver, Boyle saw it again, both on the first night of previews and opening night on August 19. On both nights the applause was thunderous, he says -- but no louder for these hometown heroes than it had been in New York.
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The Book of Mormon runs through September 2 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, and although it's sold out, some tickets have been returned to the box office, and a lottery continues before each performance. Read Juliet Wittman's review of The Book of Mormon here.