Patrons are finding the new Sara Bareilles musical Waitress tasty enough to recommend, and Broadway’s cloudy dramas saw some welcome sunshine during Week 49 of the 2015-2016 season. Both trends reinforce the one unchanging truth of the business, which is that enthusiastic word of mouth trumps your social media, your mega ad buys, your prayers…
The rush to the 2016 Tony eligibility finish line ended with Thursday’s opening of Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed to some of the best reviews of the season. The next day, meeting for the final time before the nominators were to make their decisions, the Tony administration committee ruled that the Scott Rudin-produced show would be classified a new musical and not, as petitioned, a revival. Either way, the competition in this 70th season of Tonys will reflect one of the strongest in every major categories in years. Translation: Plenty of politicking over the coming weeks, inevitable outrage over the Snubbed Ones following tomorrow morning’s announcement of the nominees, and real heartbreak along with the elation that comes with the announcement of the winners on CBS’ June 12 telecast of the Tony Awards.
Waitress, running at the Nederlander Organization’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre, was up $161K over Week 48, taking in $908K (89% of gross potential) and filling every seat in the 1,045-seat house. The week’s other big gainers — possibly affected by spring break in NYC public schools, though I doubt it — included On Your Feet!, up $137.4K to $969K (62.4% of potential) at the Nederlanders’ Marquis; American Psycho, up $63K to $597K (57% of potential) at the Shubert Organization’s Schoenfeld; the Fiddler on the Roof revival, up $136K to $855K (55% of potential) at the Shuberts’ Broadway; and The Color Purple revival, up $109.5K to $879.2K (83.3% of potential) at the Shuberts’ Jacobs.
Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour, not in contention for this season’s Tonys, continues to top the $1-million mark at the Ambassador Group’s Lyric, taking in 91% of gross potential during another 6-performance week of preview.
Several well-reviewed dramas also showed spring-like signs of life. Blackbird, with Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams, tilted up $46K to $417.7K (46.8% of potential) at the Shuberts’ Belasco. Eclipsed, the Lupita Nyong’o starrer at the Shuberts’ Golden, was up $35.5K to $269K (still dangerously low at 34% of potential). Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s solo shot Fully Committed was up $12.5K to $377K (44% of potential) at the Shuberts’ Lyceum. The Father, with Frank Langella giving one of his finest performances at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman, was up $35.4K to $294K (41.5% of potential). The Humans, the Pulitzer finalist at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes, was up $35K to $413K (71% of potential).
Hamilton had the top average ticket price ($169.12) and rang up $1.8 million in sales at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers. Disney’s The Lion King, at the Nederlanders’ Minskoff, was the top grossing show, at $1.95 million.
Total revenue for 37 shows was $28.3 million, up 4% from the week before and 8% from the same week a year ago, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League.