Six shows in previews bulked up the new Broadway season and all of them drew audience interest across a wide range of genres, from seasonal songfest (Holiday Inn) to modern classic (The Cherry Orchard) and new work (Heisenberg, The Encounter, Oh, Hello). Leading the pack was a revival of The Front Page, with an all-star crew headed up by Nathan Lane and John Slattery, coming on like gangbusters.
The Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur melocomedy, staged by Jack O’Brien, played six previews at the Shubert Organization’s Broadhurst Theatre. The 1928 show took in $922K, just shy of its gross potential and recording a noteworthy average ticket price of $128.47. Premium seats are asking $348 at the 1,177-seat house. Those numbers are a pretty good indication that stars — some stars, anyway — can still sell shows. The cast includes John Goodman, Jefferson Mays, Holland Taylor, Sherie Rene Scott and Slattery’s Mad Men mentor Robert Morse, a range of familiar names spanning movies, television and Broadway.
New plays were looking good as well: Oh, Hello, at the Shuberts’ Lyceum, ran three previews to 90 percent full houses with an average ticket price of $100.67; The Encounter, at the Shuberts’ Golden, played eight previews to 90 percent full houses at steeply discounted prices averaging $57.03. In the nonprofit venues, the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, starring a prodigal Diane Lane, played a full eight-performance week to 83 percent full houses at the American Airlines.
The Roundabout’s Holiday Inn (billed as “the new Irving Berlin musical) also played a full week, to 65 percent of capacity at Studio 54. Manhattan Theatre Club’s terrific two-hander Heisenberg, starring Mary-Louise Parker and Dennis Arndt, has transferred (after a long hiatus) to the company’s intimate Broadway HQ, the Samuel J. Friedman, where it’s close to a sellout.
No one came close to Hamilton, which added a ninth performance and rang up $2.42 million in sales at the Nederlander Organization’s Richard Rodgers; average ticket price was $199.95.
Those numbers helped the Street stay flat despite some sharp fall-offs at older shows: Disney’s Aladdin, at the New Amsterdam, was down $102K; Fiddler On The Roof was off $166.4K at the Shuberts’ Broadway; Kinky Boots, at Jujamcyn’s Hirschfeld, was down $131.8K; Matilda, at the Shubert, was down $172K; Paramour, at Ambassador Theatre Group’s Lyric, was down $199K; and Wicked, at the Nederlanders’ Gershwin, plummeted an impressive $214.5K.
Bright spots among the long-runs were…well, there weren’t any, though the superhits — The Lion King, The Book Of Mormon, Beautiful, Waitress — won’t go begging for customers anytime soon.
Total sales for Week 18 of the 2016-2017 Broadway season were $22.16 million, a hair’s breadth less than Week 17 and 10 percent ahead of the same week a year ago, according to figures from the trade group Broadway League. Average ticket price spiked 2 percent to $102.05 across all shows.