Local graduation ceremonies help boost Rialto attendance

With graduations at local universities helping to boost Broadway sales last week, “Evita” broke its latest house record and muscled its way into the top three.

Fueled by the crowds attracted by star Ricky Martin, “Evita” ($1,586,902) pushed its way past “The Book of Mormon” ($1,579,712) and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,377,399) to land behind neck-and-neck frontrunners “The Lion King” ($1,843,265) and “Wicked” ($1,831,193) in the Top 10.

In a spring season that has yielded a handful of strong sellers, “Evita” is currently leading the pack, and producers are hoping to keep that momentum going for the entire year that Martin is contracted for the show.

Last week the Broadway League’s annual road conference brought Tony voters to town, so new shows on the boards had to contend with the revenue-draining comps required to accommodate all those visitors. That likely accounts for the downticks logged at Tony-nommed shows including “Nice Work If You Can Get It” ($1,057,956), “Ghost” ($673,005), “Jesus Christ Superstar” ($549,379) and “A Streetcar Named Desire” ($433,648), although none of those shows suffered dramatically.

Helping to keep box office afloat last week were the graduations at area institutions including New York U. and Columbia. Those ceremonies helped bring parents and other relations to town, and Broadway helped keep those families occupied when they weren’t listening to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Among the tourist faves to get the biggest boosts last week were “Mamma Mia!” ($808,686) and “Chicago” ($625,236), among others. Overall Rialto attendance was up by almost 15,000 to 294,559.

Also adding coin to the Broadway pot was the Roundabout Theater Company’s first week of previews for “Harvey.” The show’s $305,770 for five perfs isn’t an earth-shaking figure, but it’s unusually large for the first week of a nonprofit play revival; chalk it up to the presence of Jim Parsons, toplining the production during his hiatus from “The Big Bang Theory.”

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” ($651,665), meanwhile, got a bump of last-minute biz in its closing week.

Overall Broadway sales climbed $2.1 million to $27.3 million for 37 shows on the boards.

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