Rodgers and Hammerstein knew that audiences liked being taken to exotic places (the South Pacific, Thailand, Austria, Oklahoma!), and these days Broadway is looking like a map of the world, with Newfoundland (Come From Away), Scandinavia (Oslo, A Doll’s House, Part 2), Mother Russia (Anastasia, Pierre, Natasha & The Great Comet of 1812), Poland (Indecent), Southeast Asia (Miss Saigon), Yonkers (Hello, Dolly!) – you get the pictures. Ticket buyers seem to be responding to the call. On a week when the overall ring-up at 36 shows was about even with the week before, individual tallies were all over the place, with big gains here, scary slumps there.
Among the new entries that showed signs of building during Week 50 of the 2016-17 season were the musical Anastasia, which inspired general upturning of critical noses, and A Doll’s House, Part 2, a smart comedy in a market that eats smart comedies for lunch. Anastasia, an adaptation of the animated feature, jumped $180K to a shade over $1 million at the Shubert Organization’s Broadhurst Theatre, with an average ticket price of $118.15. The 1,143-seat house was near full for all eight performances.
A Doll’s House, Part 2, starring Laurie Metcalf as Nora some 15 years after slamming the door in Henrik Ibsen’s play, was up a remarkable $131.6K at the Shuberts’ Golden, nearly doubling its Week 49 take to $276K. That was still a modest 37 percent of its gross potential, but the house was over 80 percent full, at below-off-Broadway prices (average ticket, $53.24; grab ’em while you can). Meanwhile, Tony contender and New York Drama Critics Circle best play Oslo, at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont, was up $107K to $692.6K and 88 percent full houses paying, on average, $94 (that figure is offset somewhat by subscribers still coming in at discounted rates).
Two Tony nominees for best musicals got a boost, which was good news for the Shuberts, who rent to both of them: Dear Evan Hansen, at the Music Box, was up $60.7K to $1.3 million – 10 percent above its potential and a solid sellout with an average ticket price of $162.34, which used to be a lot of money for a Broadway ticket. Come From Away, at the Schoenfeld, was up $26.7K to $1.1 million, 92 percent of potential, with the average ticket asking $128.87. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, at the Imperial, slipped $62K to $876K, average ticket $102.13. And the fourth contender, Groundhog Day, at Jujamcyn Theatres’ August Wilson, was up $68.5K to $823.5K, with an average ticket at $95.44.
Hello, Dolly! at the Shubert managed to take a $141.5K hit and still ring up $1.97 million in sales for seven Bette Midler-led performances, inching past The Lion King ($1.95 million at the Nederlander Organization’s Minskoff) for second place, behind Hamilton ($3.14 million at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers).
As I said, it was a lumpish week, with significant downturns at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock (off $150K at the Shuberts’ Winter Garden), A Bronx Tale (off $70K at the Shuberts’ Longacre), Lloyd Webber’s Cats (off $45K at the Nederlanders’ Neil Simon), the Kevin Kline-led Present Laughter (off $60K at Jujamcyn’s St. James), and newcomer comedy The Play That Goes Wrong (off $66K at the Shuberts’ Lyceum).
Total sales across 36 shows came to $32.86 million, according to the trade group Broadway League, about $300K better than Week 49 and 19 percent ahead of the same week a year ago. Season-to-date is 4.8 percent ahead of a year ago, while attendance continues to lag just below 1 percent.