Brits Tsk-Tsk Tyrone & Pooh-Pooh Puppet Porn; Broadway Box Office Jumps 22% To $25.7M On Holiday Weekend

Despite the frigid blast that walloped Manhattan over the Presidents Day weekend, Broadway rebounded in the 38th week of the 2015-16 season, ringing up $25.7 million in tickets sales, a 22 percent forward flip over the previous week. That was with little holiday stunting: Only one show — the Peter Pan origin tale Finding Neverland, at the Nederlander Organization’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre — added an extra performance to the standard eight count, which mostly accounted for that show’s $284K bump to $841K. That’s healthy for winter but still bobbing around 50 percent of gross potential.

Other shows seeing big improvements: Disney’s Aladdin, at the New Amsterdam, was up $268K and played to full houses. Cameron Mackintosh‘s Les Miserables reboot, at the Shubert Organization’s Imperial, was up $294.5K to $871.4K and 85 percent of capacity in the 1,409-seat house. Matilda, at the Shubert, was up $291.4K to $837.8K and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School Of Rock, at the Shuberts’ Winter Garden, sprang back $242.5K to within a hair’s breadth of $1M. Wicked, at the Nederlanders’ Gershwin, was up $265.8K. So: In all, a good week for the family-friendly shows.

Forest WhitakerNoteworthy newcomers include several dramas vying for attention, some star-driven, in previews: Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in Blackbird filled 80 percent of the seats at the Shuberts’ Belasco, according to figures released by the trade group Broadway League; Forest Whitaker in Eugene ONeill’s Hughie sold out the Shuberts’ Booth; the new musical Disaster! filled 68 percent of the seats at the Nederlander, and The Humans filled nearly 91 percent of the seats at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes.

The Book Of Mormon and Hamilton are looking like Hillary vs. Bernie, neck-and-neck in the duel over highest average ticket price. After a few weeks in the Founding Father’s shadow, Mormon, at Jujamcyn Theatre’s Eugene O’Neill, regained first place, at $169.65, over Hamilton’s $166.69 at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers. Check in next week to see whether Hamilton‘s live performance on the Grammys Monday night further boosted that blistering-hot show, currently selling $1.8 million in tickets each week — more than 34 percent above potential.

In other Broadway news of the week: Robert Askins’ gleefully blasphemous Hand To God opened in London, where critics socked it to the sock puppet, trashed Tyrone, jiu-jitsued Jason and otherwise didn’t get it. “The idea of a boy in thrall to his puppet strikes me as tragic rather than comic,” the estimable Michael Billington harrumphed in one of the more cordial lines from his Guardian review. “The sight of Tyrone being enthusiastically fellated by a female equivalent is clearly designed as a shock (or possibly a sock) tactic.” Ya think?

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