Play revivals struggle at box office

The Tony telecast may have tanked in the ratings, but Broadway enjoyed its Tony bounce much more than usual. The $1,304,421 uptick was at least double the increase produced post-awards in the past two years.

Last week, 35 shows brought in a record $18,335,860, up from $15.54 million in 2004 and $11.08 million in 2003. Two years ago, paid attendance came to a meager 164,363, compared with last week’s huge 266,851.

Almost all shows were up, the exceptions limited to “The Phantom of the Opera” ($753,204), “Rent” ($320,119), “Brooklyn” ($188,475), “After the Night and the Music” ($157,061) and “Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed” ($88,030), each of which fell only four figures. For good reason, slightly bigger dips beset two revivals that put in seven perfs instead of the previous week’s eight: “A Streetcar Named Desire” ($262,012) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” ($256,693), off $34,494 and $19,936, respectively. Despite Bill Irwin’s Tony win, “Woolf” looked especially wobbly at 53.5% capacity.

Too many play revivals? “On Golden Pond” ($216,694) played a full eight, but James Earl Jones missed a perf due to a contractual obligation, creating a $4,208 dip there. Up $24,595, “Steel Magnolias” ($226,706) needs to gain more. And that goes double for “The Glass Menagerie” ($179,092), which managed to eke out another $3,113.

The exception proves the rule — and that is the Tony-winning revival of “Glengarry Glen Ross” ($434,102), up $30,078.

Beyond the play reduxes, biz was booming. Boffo describes Billy Crystal’s final week in “700 Sundays” ($846,635), which rose $349,006 on the back of two more perfs — there were just four the previous week — and an astronomical $119.13 average price ticket. Crystal had been averaging about $105 a ticket for most of the run.

Denzel Washington also said good-bye to Broadway with “Julius Caesar” ($699,180), up $24,795 and nearly, but not quite, getting more per ticket than “Wicked” ($1,265,536), which continued to average a lofty $87.45. The Bard came in third with $86.74.

Any way you cut it, “Julius Caesar” set a house record at the Belasco. Records were also established at the Walter Kerr, home of “Doubt” ($539,123), and the Shubert, where “Monty Python’s Spamalot” ($960,871) enjoyed a $34,679 increase.

But the week’s biggest prize — a huge $90,457 increase — went to “The Light in the Piazza” ($544,820), which played to 95.1% capacity on the strength of its six Tony wins.

“La Cage aux Folles” ($356,612) took second place with its $86,742 gain. The reason there had everything to do with its June 26 closing date.

Elsewhere under the top 10, plush five-figure increases pumped the receipts at “All Shook Up” ($498,085), “Avenue Q” ($484,308), “Chicago” ($439,245), “Movin’ Out” ($475,120) and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” ($405,043), up $21,240 for its best week to date. The tiny tuner played to 99% capacity.

“The Pillowman” ($399,687) expanded less, up $6,917, but continues to look solid at 92.3% capacity.

Monday-morning media coverage of the Tony Awards reduced the telecast to the Billy Crystal/Christina Applegate show. Lucky “Sweet Charity’s” ($522,081) receipts were up $57,255 as a result.

Too bad Harvey Fierstein couldn’t be nommed. In another example of the current revival doldrums, “Fiddler on the Roof” ($404,377) at 50% capacity needs gas, its receipts marking time with a negligible $1,388 uptick.

Still in previews, “The Constant Wife” ($248,326) saw an increase of $14,730. The revival (gulp) opens Thursday.

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