Salt Lake City’s Eccles Theater is limiting alcohol during all performances of the bawdy, sexually-explicit musical “The Book of Mormon,” rather than risk a fine or loss of its state liquor license.
“Utah State Liquor Laws have clear regulations about alcohol consumption during events with mature themes,” Cami Munk, communications manager with Salt Lake County Center for the Arts, said in a written statement. “In compliance with the regulations, we are limiting alcohol consumption to the lobby and the Bistro (restaurant).”
Patrons can normally buy 3.2-percent bottled beer — which staff pour into a plastic cup with a lid — and take it to their seats during performances.
This is the first time since it opened nearly a year ago that the Eccles Theater has been forced to deal with state’s Attire, Conduct, and Entertainment Act, Munk said.
“The Book of Mormon,” which satirizes various Mormon beliefs and practices, poses a particular problem with the portion of the state liquor law that “forbids serving alcohol while a person is permitted to wear a device” that “simulates all or any portion of the human genitals.”
Those who have seen the Tony-award winning comedy, which includes a scene where actors wear outrageous props that resemble exaggerated male genitalia, should understand the theater’s dilemma.
Serving alcohol wasn’t a problem when “The Book of Mormon” first came to Salt Lake City in 2015. At that time, performances were held at the Capitol Theatre, which does not allow alcohol in the seated area of the venue.
The limitations on beer consumption during “The Book of Mormon,” which is playing nightly through Aug. 20, meets state law, according to a written statement provided by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC).
“The Eccles Theater is currently in compliance with state law regarding alcohol sale and consumption during the play, “The Book of Mormon,” the statement reads. In the future, “alcohol in the seating area of the theater” will be allowed as long as there are no potential conflicts.
Art and alcohol have previously proven to be poor companions in Utah.
Last year, officers from the State Bureau of Investigation cited the Brewvies theater in Salt Lake City for serving alcohol during screenings of the movie “Deadpool.” The R-rated super hero film showed characters having sex while nude, a violation of state liquor laws.
Brewvies filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Utah, contending that the film is protected by the First Amendment. The issue is still pending.