'Book of Mormon' Sets Broadway, West End Records After London Launch

The Book of Mormon - Theater - Pantages - H 2012

The musical, which has gotten mixed reviews, reached single-day ticket sales of more than $3.2 million on Friday.

LONDON -- Hit musical “The Book of Mormon” celebrated its opening here at Prince Wales Theatre on Thursday night, and Friday's ticket sales set a West End and Broadway record for single-day sales.

The Independent on Saturday reported that the day's box office amounted to 2.11 million pounds ($3.21 million), beating the previous record for the British capital. Sales also exceeded the highest one-day take in Broadway history, The Wall Street Journal said.

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The gross for the show, written by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker along with composer Robert Lopez, was higher than the day-after sales for the show’s 2011 Broadway opening, which brought in $1.5 million.

“It’s an unbelievable result,” the Journal quoted producer Scott Rudin as saying. “To be literally twice what we did the day after opening in New York is just unheard of.”

150,000 additional tickets have been made available in London, said The Independent.

However, the Tony Award-winning musical about a pair of missionaries in a remote village in Uganda has drawn mixed reviews in London.

The Telegraph's reviewer said he and other audience members found it "hard to warm to the show" and its "foul-mouthed irreverence and outrageousness." Said the paper: "If you find it funny that one of the characters constantly announces: 'I have maggots in my scrotum,' this is definitely the ticket for you."

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The Guardian said people would have a "perfectly pleasant time" watching the London show. However, the idea that the show "is either daringly offensive or a Broadway breakthrough is pure codswallop," it added. "The biggest myth of all is that it's somehow a landmark American musical."

London's Evening Standard, meanwhile, called Book of Mormon "spirited and refreshing," and The Independent described it as a guilty pleasure. "Is the show touristic? Does it merely flirt with blasphemy?" the paper asked. "Oh, you bet. But there is also something very winning about its spirit."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai