Winter came fast and hard to Broadway last week, as eight shows shuttered and attendance plunged one-third from the last holiday week of the calendar year. It was also the week that saw premature defenestration notices go up for Disgraced (March 1), If/Then (March 22) and, perhaps most painfully, The Last Ship (January 24) in the wake of disappointing runs.

Image (1) Broadway-sign__121204013651-200x108.jpg for post 381725Overall box office was off a staggering 44%, though that was mostly to be expected as the tourist crowds thinned along with customers willing to pay premium prices for must-see shows. The blockbuster revival of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only A Play provides a perfect illustration: While attendance at the Nathan Lane/Matthew Broderick hit was down by just 713 bodies at the Schoenfeld Theatre, box office slumped 52% to $691K from $1.5M, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League for the week ending Sunday. Most tellingly, the average price per ticket was nearly halved, to $88.95.

With Lane now departed for Brooklyn’s distant shore (where he will appear with Brian Dennehy in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), the outlook could be rocky for replacement Martin Short and a planned move down the block to the Jacobs.

honeymoon in vegas the musicalTwo previewing shows face the critics this week: Jake Gyllenhaal and last night’s Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson, in Nick Payne’s Constellations (opening Tuesday night at the Friedman) and Jason Robert Brown & Andrew Bergman’s Honeymoon In Vegas, adapted from Bergman’s comedy and starring Tony Danza, Rob McClure and Brynn O’Malley (opening Thursday at the Nederlander). The latter show had one of the smallest drop-offs last week, but that’s not good news—it’s been struggling to fill seats and take in more than one-third of its $1.13M gross potential since previews began back in November. Last week was no different, with a take of $399K, 35% of potential.

Nothing was hurting the ongoing sell-outs too much: The Lion King continued to lead the street at $1.8M, followed by The Book Of Mormon at $1.6M (with a street-leading top average-ticket-price of $183.95) and Wicked at $1.59M. Top average-ticket-price for non-musicals were The Elephant Man led by Bradley Cooper at the Booth ($158.72) and A Delicate Balance led by Glenn Close and John Lithgow at the Golden ($123.73).