It may have been a down week for Broadway last week, but that didn’t stop “Fences” from breaking the house record at the Cort — or from announcing that it will recoup its costs by of the end of this week.
Show will make back its $2.8 million capitalization in eight weeks of perfs, according to producers. The quick trip into the black won’t come as a surprise for anyone: The show has been powering along week after week, thanks to crowd-magnet topliner Denzel Washington.
Well-reviewed staging, co-starring Viola Davis and helmed by Kenny Leon, heads into Sunday’s Tony Awards with 10 nominations, a record for a play revival.
Last week the production’s house-record-breaking gross ($1,024,317) actually bested “Billy Elliot” ($1,015,157) to land at number five on the top 10. Show’s stellar sales recall similar star-driven successes for limited run plays including “A Steady Rain” and “Three Days of Rain,” among others.
“Fences” provided one of the few bright spots on the charts last week, in a frame that saw most productions post losses — some of them big ones — after the steady Memorial Day weekend sales of the prior sesh.
“American Idiot” ($612,380), for instance, slid a whopping $225,000 (or 27%). Drop may make a certain amount of sense given the Green Day punk-opera targets a younger demo that likely won’t be out in full force until the summer break hits in a few weeks. The dip following a holiday weekend also indicates a strong tourist appeal, which doesn’t seem surprising due to Green Day’s high profile in contempo music.
Also down were fellow Tony nominees “Memphis” ($539,905), “Million Dollar Quartet” ($417,304), each off by 20%, and “Fela!” (down 16% to $507,018), suggesting that visitors make up a significant chunk of their auds, too.
Still, it’s probably foolish to read too much into those drops, because the entire Street slid in a pre-Tony lull, with only a handful of shows — including “Fences” and “The Lion King” ($1,472,188) — on the rise.
Also gaining were a couple of plays that ended their runs last week: “A Behanding in Spokane” ($483,113), exiting prior to awards night, and “God of Carnage” ($306,581).
Total B.O. slid $1.6 million to $20.7 million for 34 shows on the boards, and attendance (243,014) dropped by nearly 20,000.