Behold the Miracle

Playhouse Square plans a Mormon twist

Broadway's hottest ticket, The Book of Mormon, is coming to the Palace Theatre next year as part of Playhouse Square's 2012-'13 Key Bank Broadway Series.

Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the extremely silly, relentlessly profane, and excruciatingly hilarious musical will make its Cleveland debut on June 18 of next year. Performances will continue through July 7, marking the close of Playhouse Square's 2012-'13 Broadway Series season.

Mormon's Cleveland stop is good news for anyone who has tried scoring tickets for the perennially sold-out show in the Big Apple. But be warned: Tickets are expected to fly out of the Playhouse Square box office too. No surprise that officials suggest securing a season subscription now, rather than waiting for individual tickets to go on sale later this summer.

Beyond their power to sell seats, Gina Vernaci, senior veep of theater ops at Playhouse Square, says the series' seven shows were picked to highlight the best in contemporary stagecraft.

"Quality is always first on the check-off list," says Vernaci. "But after that, you want to pull out the shows that represent all the crafts that go into a Broadway production: things like dance numbers, costumes, composers, and even puppetry."

The season opener, Anything Goes, is a case in point. The 2011 Tony Award-winning revival of the 1934 musical comedy features classic Cole Porter lyrics — including the title tune, which was originally written for world-class belter Ethel Merman. You can also expect a show-stopping tap-dance number from director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall. Performances are set for October 2 through 14.

That's followed by Disney's Beauty & the Beast. A showcase for the costumers' art, the show will be in town November 6 through 18.

Disco and drag queens star in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which won a 2011 Tony Award for its costumes. Produced by Bette Midler, the Cleveland run is set for January 15 to 27.

In March, it's time for Sister Act, a 2011 adaptation of the 1992 movie that starred Whoopi Goldberg. Fun fact: On Broadway, former Cosby Show cutie-pie Raven-Symoné has just taken over the role of Deloris Van Cartier; Goldberg is onboard as a producer.

Then it's on to the WWI drama War Horse, a 2011 winner of five Tonys, including one for Best Play. Despite the tear-jerking plotline, chances are it's the life-size horse puppets by Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa that will steal audiences' hearts. "It is just so beautifully produced," says Vernaci. "It's a tremendous example of theater craft." War Horse runs from April 9 through 21, 2013.

Next up is Guys and Dolls. Based on a Damen Runyon tale, the comedy has been revived five times since its 1950 Broadway debut. In Cleveland, it will be co-produced by Great Lakes Theater; shows are set for May 1 through June 23 at the Hanna Theatre.

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