‘Book of Mormon’ musical creators reject playbill ad for ‘Saratov Approach’

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The proposed ad for "The Saratov Approach" that was denied space in the playbill for "The Book of Mormon" musical. Photo courtesy Cedar Fort Publishing.
The proposed ad for “The Saratov Approach” that was denied space in the playbill for “The Book of Mormon” musical. (Courtesy Cedar Fort Publishing)

Creators of the popular Broadway show “The Book of Mormon” recently denied ad space to producers of “The Saratov Approach” because of its content.

In contrast to the irreverent humor and explicit language presented in the musical, Cedar Fort Publishing and Media began a national campaign to promote the film as a real Mormon missionary story.

Initially there were no problems purchasing the ad space. Cedar Fort then received bad news from the corporate director of sales and marketing for Broadway in Detroit. 

According to a press release from Cedar Fort, Spencer Harden, film acquisition and development manager at Cedar Fort, received an email stating, “I have bad news. Our final program has to be approved by the producers of ‘The Book Of Mormon,’ and unfortunately they have asked us to not accept this ad. I’m very sorry about that. We would love to have you in there, but it is their show and they have the final word.”

When Harden asked for a reason, the director at Broadway in Detroit was unsure but said, “I even asked if it was the headline or the content of the movie, and they responded by saying ‘both.'”

“The Saratov Approach” tells the true story of Elders Travis Tuttle and Andrew Propst, who were abducted and held for $300,000 ransom while serving their missions in Russia in 1998.

The film, which has grossed more than $2.1 million, was written and directed by BYU graduate Garret Batty.

Ironically, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints placed ads in the playbill for the musical when it opened in Los Angeles in late 2012 and in Toronto Canada in early 2013.

The ads depicted real Mormons and the words “I’ve read the book,” with information about mormon.org and other church resources. It is unknown if the church has continued to place ads in the playbill.

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