Janet and Mel Moses rose Sunday morning just as the sun was emerging on the eastern horizon and headed north on a day of adventure. First on the list for the Sarasota couple: Get tickets for the upcoming production of “The Book of Mormon” which starts at the Straz Center in less than two months. “We’ve been to New York, Broadway,” said Janet Moses, as she sat knitting in a lengthening line at the Straz box office just before the windows opened at 10 a.m. “This is very exciting.” The Moses planned to head to Ybor City afterward for some eats and whatever else awaited them in their Tampa adventure. About 100 people stretched from the ticket window beneath the overhang waiting for the prized tickets to the Broadway sensation.
Sunday was the first day the general public could buy “The Book of Mormon” tickets. Tickets were scooped up by American Express card holders from Wednesday through Friday in an online promotion. Right after the cyberspace box office opened Wednesday morning, the volume of calls bogged down the ticket-buying system, and an email was sent to customers urging patience. “The email was to tell people that there were so many people online that the system was slowed down,” said Straz spokesman Paul Bilyeu. “We had never crashed.” He said the Straz Center is expecting big crowds for “The Book of Mormon.” “It is just a very highly anticipated show,” he said. “We’re looking forward to having it in Tampa. A lot of people ordered tickets online and over the phone, but there probably will be a lot of people who are old-school, who want to wait in line for their tickets.” First in line were Ande Felder of St. Petersburg and Bev Wickson of Tampa, two college chums who became friends back when, well when “Hair” first burst onto a Broadway stage. Felder and Wickson arrived just before 8 a.m. Sunday, and became the front of the line. “We wanted to get the best seats we could get,” Felder said. Both are regular theatergoers and were thankful Broadway-quality shows are making it to Tampa. “They always bring top-notch shows here,” Wickson said. Next in line was Jodi Rothman, who arrived just after 8 a.m. “I wanted to get the best seats available,” she said. She is looking forward to the music, of which she is very familiar, and the raunchy comedy in the show. “I’m a little crude and crass too,” she said. The Broadway play, winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, begins its 16-performance run on Nov. 12. The production features words, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, “Avenue Q.” “The Book of Mormon” is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (“Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway has taken the stage for just over 1,000 performances and raked in about $192 million, according to Playbill Vault, which tracks the success and reviews of stage productions. The average price for the Broadway show: $170 a ticket. “The Book of Mormon” opened in March 2011 in the 1,000 seat Eugene O’Neill Theatre, and has been playing to sold out audiences since. Tickets to the performance at the Straz may be purchased by calling (813) 229-7827 or 1-800-955-1045 outside Tampa, in person at the Straz Center ticket office or online at www.strazcenter.org, email@example.com (813) 259-7760