An unlikely media sensation gets caught up in the Twitter-enhanced mythology that distorts his true nature as he becomes a national hero: Donald Trump? Evan Hansen? Both had big weeks in dark times (but while each character profits from alternative truths, only one sings. Also, he’s not real).
While Trump moved into the White House, Dear Evan Hansen — the first musical of the season to look like a significant hit — was one of the few shows to buck the seasonal plunge into January’s icy waters. As most shows saw falloff from the week before, Hansen gained $50K at the Shubert Organization’s Music Box Theatre, topping $1 million while filling every seat in the 984-seat house and then some: Both sales and attendance tipped over the 100 per cent mark, with tickets selling for an average price of $136.56.
The transfer from off-Broadway’s Second Stage has made a star of Ben Platt in the title role of a shy boy thrust into the cultural spotlight when a thoughtless lie in the wake of a tragedy snowballs out of control. Aggressive marketing — it’s hard to avoid Platt’s image anywhere these days — and excited word of mouth are sustaining the musical during a period that’s typically carnage for new shows.
Two other new musicals also showed ongoing strength with customers: A Bronx Tale, at the Shuberts’ Longacre, rang up $901K in sales, almost 95 per cent of gross potential, with full houses. And Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812, at the Shuberts’ Imperial, sold $1.12 million worth of tickets, or 85 per cent of potential and near-full houses.
The roster is down to 22 shows in the lull before spring blooms on Broadway in the run-up to the late-April Tony Awards nominations deadline. Shows taking the biggest hit last week included Disney’s The Lion King, down $143.5K at the Nederlander Organization’s Minskoff (but still 7 per cent above potential and SRO); the Mouse’s Aladdin, down $173.5K to $1.25 million but still SRO at the company’s New Amsterdam; On Your Feet! at the Nederlanders’ Marquis, off $156.4K to $683.4K, just 44 per cent of gross potential; and The Book Of Mormon, at Jujamcyn Theatres’ Eugene O’Neill, down $126K to $1.3 million (and also still SRO).
With plays an even tougher draw than musicals, Cate Blanchett, in her Broadway debut, continues to bring in Chekhov-hungry crowds, as The Present, at the Shuberts’ Ethel Barrymore, sold $977K in tickets, down $53K but a healthy 89 per cent of potential. The Nathan Lane-John Slattery led revival of The Front Page also held up, besting the $1 million mark at the Shuberts’ Broadhurst for 77.8 per cent of potential and full houses.
Total sales for Week 35 of the 2016-2017 Broadway season were $21.7 million for 22 shows, a drop of 16 per cent from the week before. The average ticket price across all shows, according to the trade group Broadway League, was $109.48, down from Week 34’s $114.37.