Utah liquor laws have changed in the two years since “The Book of Mormon" musical last played in Salt Lake City.
Patrons attending the 2019 run of the Tony-winning musical — which satirizes various Mormon beliefs and practices — won’t have to guzzle beer in the lobby before the show or at intermission.
“Beer purchased at any concession stand will be allowed in the theater,” said Cami Munk, marketing and public relations manager at Salt Lake County’s Center for the Arts, which operates downtown’s Eccles Theater.
Guests who attend one of the 16 shows — through Aug. 25 — also may notice that the state’s only “Zion Ceiling” is gone. It was removed earlier this summer to make way for a new restaurant.
In 2017, the Eccles Theater was forced to limit alcohol during performances of the spicy but spirited musical comedy, rather than violate state law and risk a fine or loss of its state liquor license.
Back then, the show conflicted with the portion of 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.”ˇ
“The Book of Mormon” includes a scene in which actors wear outrageous props that resemble exaggerated male genitalia.
Patrons who attend other shows at Eccles normally can buy 3.2 percent bottled beer — which staffers pour into a plastic cup with a lid — and take it to their seats during performances.
The Utah Legislature was forced to change portions of the state liquor law — as it related to nudity — after the owner of Salt Lake City’s Brewvies Cinema Pub successfully sued the state in a First Amendment case that made headlines.
Officers from the State Bureau of Investigation cited Brewvies in 2016 for serving alcohol during screenings of the movie “Deadpool.” The R-rated superhero flick showed characters having sex while nude, which at the time violated state liquor laws.
After a federal judge declared that portion of Utah law unconstitutional, lawmakers changed the wording to meet federal standards. At the same time, they tweaked another section of law that affected “The Book of Mormon" shows.
Ironically, 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 areas of the venue.
As for the “Zion Ceiling,” it was hastily installed just weeks before the Eccles’ grand opening in October 2016. Similar to its better-known sibling, the “Zion Curtain,” the Zion Ceiling prevented patrons standing on the theater’s sweeping balconies from seeing alcoholic drinks being mixed and poured inside the restaurant in the grand lobby.
Restaurants no longer need the barriers — as long as minors are seated at last 10 feet away from dispensing areas.
Restaurant owners Jerry and Kestrel Liedtke — the husband-and-wife duo who also own Tin Angel at 365 W. 400 South in Salt Lake City — were able to take down the barrier to make way for their new restaurant inside the Main Street venue.
Tin Angel at Eccles officially opened Tuesday and will serve a special Utah-themed menu — think funeral potatoes — for “The Book of Mormon" run. “Our servers will be dressed as missionaries, and we will have Polygamy Porter and (cocktails made with) Five Wives Vodka,” Kestrel Liedtke said. “We’re really focused on making it festive and fun.”
Some Utah liquor laws never change, though, so alcoholic drinks purchased at Tin Angel will need to be consumed in the restaurant.