New Musicals Vie For A Slice Of The Broadway Box Office As Vets Hang On

Joan Marcus

Broadway returned from spring break to something approaching normalcy in Week 46 of the 2015-2016 season, with a downward shift of about 10% at the box office as new musicals strutted their stuff and holdovers worked hard to put on a fresh face for the smaller crowds.

Four big musicals are in previews and slated to open by the Tony nominations April 28 cut-off date. Sara Bareilles’ Waitress continues to serve up pies and, apparently, smiles, having had its best week yet at the Nederlander Organization’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where it opens April 24. The show, starring Tony winner Jessie Mueller, took in $880K, a bit more than 86% of its potential and filling the 1,045-seat house at an average ticket price of $105.35. At the Shubert Organization’s Broadhurst Theatre, Tuck Everlasting‘s tale of semi-immortal romance shows more of an earthbound struggle, with tickets averaging $48.24 and a take of $324.5K — just 36% of its potential at the 1,161-seat theater; it opens on the 26th.

Shuffle AlongShuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed played seven previews with its starry cast intact. Led by Audra McDonald at the Shuberts’ Music Box, the George C. Wolfe-directed show sold $767K worth of tickets, 82%of potential, and sold out the 963-seat house at an average ticket price of $114.14 in anticipation of its April 28 opening. And Duncan Sheik’s American Psycho working its bloody way through previews at the Shuberts’ Schoenfeld, took in $472.,5K, a little over half its potential at an average ticket price of $69.08 on the way to its opening on the 21st.

The previewing non-musicals include Frank Langella in The Father at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman, opening Thursday; Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Fully Committed, at the Shuberts’ Lyceum, where it opens on the 25th, and Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange leading the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, opening  on the 27th at the American Airlines.

Among the season’s new shows, Disaster! at the Nederlander, is looking like one, taking in less than 27% of its potential. Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star, at the Shuberts’ Cort, was faring a bit better, taking in $392K, about 43% of its potential. The Color Purple, at the Shuberts’ Jacobs, brought in $694K, almost 66% of its potential, at an average ticket price of $101.60.

And the competition? Disney’s The Lion King, at the Nederlanders’ Minskoff, had the Street’s top take at $1.2 million, with no tickets to be had and an asking price of $148.38. That average price was third behind Hamilton‘s $168.65 at the Nederlanders’ Richard Rodgers, and The Book of Mormon‘s $151.52, at Jujamcyn Theatres’ Eugene O’Neill.

So, as is evident, things are all over the place as the season winds up and producers bate their breaths awaiting the Tony nominations.  The total draw for 36 shows was $26.9 million, a 10% drop from Week 45 about the same drop from the same week last year, when the kids were still out on vacation.

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