'I'll Eat You Last' Leads Rising

Play starring Bette Midler and Tony nominee 'Kinky Boots' log robust rises in sales

It didn’t hurt to be a Tony nominee last week, when a general upward trend at the Broadway box office proved most likely to bring increases at those individual titles currently enjoying a spike in awards-season publicity.

Not that a Tony nod was a prerequisite for rising biz. Case in point: “I’ll Eat You Last,” the Bette Midler solo outing that was locked out of the Tony noms but posted the biggest rise of the frame, climbing nearly $112,000 (or 15%) to $865,144. That’s a new box office record at the Booth Theater and a notably boffo number given the small size of the venue (777 seats).

The bump at “Eat You Last” even outpaced the rise at “Kinky Boots” ($1,250,718), up a robust $110,000 on the strength of 13 Tony noms. Cicely Tyson topliner “The Trip to Bountiful,” ($562,796) and tuners “Annie” ($743,412) and “Pippin” ($861,233) also all got healthy boosts, while Tom Hanks starrer “Lucky Guy” ($1,389,588) and new musical nominee “Matilda” ($1,124,333) improved as well, though not by as wide a margin.

Most individual titles on the boards saw sales pick up, but with a couple of shuttered productions no longer in the mix — one a big seller (“The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream”) and one less so (“The Testament of Mary”) — and attendance slipping just slightly to 240,234, the Main Stem couldn’t keep the cume from slightly deflating to $24,246,231 for 29 shows on the boards.

Still, few of the week’s box office declines were terribly notable, with longrunners “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,039,572) and “Mamma Mia!” ($880,486) reporting the largest downticks. Overall, however, there was still enough biz to keep nine shows in the millionaires’ club, with “Motown” ($1,194,456) maintaining a perch above the $1 million mark alongside fellow spring titles “Lucky Guy,” “Kinky Boots” and “Matilda.”

With the Broadway League’s road conference this week bringing in legiters from around the country — in particular Tony voters who’ll need comps to the Street’s roster of nominees — there’s a chance nominee B.O. could dip a bit in the coming week. But if those comps pay off in Tony love, it’ll be worth it.

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