Upon taking my seat to “The Book of Mormon” last Friday on Broadway I knew something was up. First off, I wasn’t assigned a seat, so I freely chose where to sit (front row of the mezzanine in case you’re curious). Secondly (and most perplexingly), it was hard to pinpoint an audience member over the age of 60 in the sold out crowd.
Now there’s a reason for all this. Last week’s Friday matinee was a free fan performance for people who had entered the daily lottery to catch “The Book of Mormon” for $32. Another lottery was set up for past lottery entrants to win admittance to the free show. Suffice to say, those lucky ones that got in were elated to be there. So over the moon that the first person in line to nab a seat lined herself up at midnight the night before. Now that’s dedication.
Before the lights went down the audience erupted into a torrent of applause and cheers that continued throughout the two-hour-plus running time of the raucous Tony-winning show. I caught up with Tony-winner Nikki M. James after the show to ask what playing to a house of fans was like.
“It just felt like the parallel opposite of our first preview,” she said. “Our first preview audiences didn’t know what to expect but they were clearly excited to see the show. They had that raucous feeling of wanting to be shocked. This audience was so looking forward to it, clearly. This was a special event. It felt like like a lot had already seen it, so they were overly appreciative in a way that jazzed us up. The show came down six minutes longer that normal. It felt like they were already in love with us.”
After finally catching the musical, I can’t say I blame them.