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Broadway Box Office: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart Show Sales Magnetism

'Waiting for Godot' and 'No Man's Land' look healthy as three shows join the slate

Looks like on Broadway, Magneto and Professor X sell. Or Gandalf and Jean-Luc Picard do.

The two-play outing led by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, with productions of Samuel Beckett’s  “Waiting for Godot” and Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” playing in rep, kicked off its run with two previews last week and had a healthy $202,787 to show for it. Auds filled the Cort Theater to about 93% of capacity.

Theater-avid curiosity often drives strong sales at the earliest perfs of a high-profile Broadway production, but if “Godot/No Man’s Land” can build on last week’s early showing, it could turn into one of the fall’s strong nonmusical sellers. McKellen and Stewart bring to the table a large fanboy following derived from their work together in the “X-Men” films (including next year’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) and separately in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” (for McKellen) and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (for Stewart).

That fanbase will likely help give the title a solid boost in a fall lineup that’s fairly crowded with buzzy plays. Leader of that pack, Daniel Craig-Rachel Weisz starrer “Betrayal” ($1,103,682), remained in the stratosphere, dipping only because last week accommodated press perfs and a starry opening night.

The much-lauded revival of “The Glass Menagerie” ($734,661), starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, also looked far from fragile. And the Mark Rylance-led repertory stagings of “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III” ($669,342) continued its solid sales in the wake of a notably robust debut the prior frame.

“Godot/No Man’s Land” was one of three titles to start perfs last week, along with Ethan Hawke starrer “Macbeth” ($196,181 for three previews, a decent tally for the nonprofit production from Lincoln Center Theater) and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($311,467 for seven). The latter hasn’t had time to cultivate much of a Main Stem profile yet, so it could use a dose of some of the critical plaudits that spurred the show’s Broadway transfer.

The same could be said for Duke Ellington revue “After Midnight” ($431,132), playing its first full week of previews and likely hoping for a boost from its upcoming Nov. 3 opening.

Overall Broadway sales slipped about $900,000 to $23.2 million for 30 shows on the boards. Attendance was down a tick to 231,769.

Missing from the pot last week were contributions from “Mamma Mia!,” which went dark as it moves from the Winter Garden Theater (where “Rocky” bows in the spring) to the smaller Broadhurst, picking up perfs there Nov. 2.

The week’s Top 10 chart looked about like it has for the last few weeks, with “The Lion King” ($1,798,361), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,733,532) and “Wicked” ($1,693,555) leading the way ahead of spring 2013 additions “Kinky Boots” ($1,651,626), “Motown” ($1,425,902) and “Matilda” ($1,179,019).

Among recent openers, “A Night with Janis Joplin” ($433,141) continued to show B.O. potential, doing well enough that the concert-tuner opened the Lyceum Theater’s balcony for four of its eight performances in order to expand its seating capacity.

Only one more title remains to start perfs on Broadway this fall: Billy Crystal solo outing “700 Sundays,” which, based on the stellar sales logged during the show’s initial Rialto run a decade ago, looks likely to contribute a solid chunk of change to the cume when it begins previews Nov. 5.

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