It's opening night for “The Book of Mormon,” but Proctors won’t have the only packed house in Schenectady.
Nearby restaurants are bracing for big business during the Tony Award-winning musical’s six-day run, and some are enticing patrons with special menu features.
Crowds set to descend on Schenectady for the show will be comparable to those seen for past Proctors favorites “Les Miserables,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” said Proctors spokesman Michael Eck.
“It’s not one of the big ones; it is the big one,” he said of the show. “ ‘The Book of Mormon’ is the biggest thing on Broadway right now.”
Back in January, when tickets for the show went on sale at Proctors, so many people tried to buy them online that the website crashed and was down for about two hours.
“We had really amped up all of our systems here in expectation of that, but it still sort of took us by wonderful surprise, and I’ve spoken with some other theaters around the country and they’ve had similar experiences,” Eck said.
There are still a few tickets left for the Proctors show, available before each performance by lottery for $25 each.
Some “Book of Mormon” fans unable to secure tickets to the Broadway production are traveling to Schenectady to see the off-Broadway show, said Peter Blackman, co-owner of Aperitivo Bistro, just a few doors down from Proctors.
The restaurant will feature a special “Mormon Cocktail” during the show’s Schenectady run.
Aperitivo has been booked solid for the show’s dates for more than a week, and Blackman said he expects patrons from as far away as south of Greene County.
“[‘Book of Mormon’] will pull, I think, a younger, more diverse crowd,” he said. “I think it’s good because I think that expands the reach of the arts a little further.”
Chuck Steiner, president and CEO of the Chamber of Schenectady County, said the influx of new patrons will provide a perfect opportunity to show off Schenectady.
“There are many people coming to that show that have not necessarily been to downtown in some time, if at all. So they’re going to see the city in a much different light. They’re going to see it as a bright, shiny, new, attractive, fun place to be,” he said.
Schenectady ambassadors will be in and around Proctors, welcoming theatergoers to town.
“It’s a great opportunity for our citizens to welcome our visitors and make them feel comfortable, and hospitality has to shine,” Steiner said.
Bombers Burrito Bar, across the street from Proctors, chose the week of the show to roll out some new menu features, including a dinnertime all-you-can-eat taco buffet, $5 tacos on Tuesdays, $5 quesadillas on Wednesdays and $5 burritos on Thursdays.
“We were trying to expand the new menu a little bit and we just thought a really great time to try it out would be the week of ‘Book of Mormon,’ ” said Alyssa Samek, a shift leader at Bombers.
The restaurant does not take reservations but is expecting big crowds on show days, Samek said.
More Perreca’s Cafe on Jay Street should also be hopping this week.
“We are packed with reservations but can still take more,” said owner Maria Papa.
The restaurant is offering a four-course prix-fixe menu through Thursday for $19.95. In addition to an appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert, each meal includes a glass of wine and a loaf of Perreca’s bread to take home. Entree choices are braciole, stuffed shells, baked scrod and lasagna.
Staff will ensure theatergoers have plenty of time to get to the show after their meal, Papa noted.
“We watch the clock for them,” she said.
The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. is posting tips for “Book of Mormon” attendees on its Facebook page.
“I get a sense that we’re going to be seeing a whole bunch of people who haven’t been to downtown,” said Executive Director Jim Salengo.
To help ensure visitors will have a good experience, the DSIC is encouraging them to call in advance for restaurant reservations and to check out the parking situation on the Park Schenectady website, www.parkschenectady.com.
The DSIC is also directing visitors to its interactive online map, available at www.downtownschenectady.org/map. The map shows the locations of downtown businesses, parking lots and services.
“We’re encouraging people to come down either early or to stay afterwards, to check out the shopping and beat the crowds,” he said.