Broadway Box Office: Business Surges with ‘Curious Incident’ Off to Good Start

Broadway bounced back from its annual post-Labor Day downturn last week, gaining steam in a frame that added three new shows — including the transfer of London hit “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” — and saw the return of one more.

September is usually a fallow time on the Main Stem thanks to the back-to-school distractions of the season, but Broadway has taken to fighting off the annual downturn with Broadway Week, the two-week, two-for-one ticket initiative that ended this year on Sept. 14. Besides that, the Street’s cume takes a step up as the fall season heats up and new shows join to lineup.

Still only in previews, starry comedy “It’s Only a Play” ($1,230,603) continues to wow the industry with grosses that make it the new nonmusical to beat this fall. Another closely watched play title, “Curious Incident” ($288,614 for four previews), lands on the Rialto after a London premiere that transferred to the West End (where the show’s still playing) and earned seven Olivier Awards. The first frame of Broadway sales proved solid for a title that hasn’t carved out much of a profile for itself beyond theater cognoscenti, and the 93% attendance indicates a healthy audience interest.

Also adding to the Broadway pot last week were Manhattan Theater Club’s “The Country House” ($198,383 for seven previews), looking about average for an early week of a nonprofit title, and “Love Letters” ($54,749 for two previews), off to a slow start with toplining stars Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow. Meanwhile, Audra McDonald starrer “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” ($652,702), which took the week off the prior sesh, returned strong in one of Broadway’s smallest houses.

Despite accommodating press tickets last week as well as a heavily comped opening, Michael Cera starrer “This Is Our Youth” ($372,793) managed to uptick, and looks poised to accelerate further thanks to strong reviews.

Among other ongoing productions, nearly every individual title saw sales rise, with the Top 10 dominated by the usual suspects of “The Lion King” ($1,725,567), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,555,886) and “Wicked” ($1,462,840), with last spring’s big-selling openers, “Aladdin” ($1,312,257) and the just-recouped “Beautiful” ($1,300,961), coming up right behind. “It’s Only a Play” managed to hit the number six slot on the Top 10, an impressive achievement for a nonmusical.

Elsewhere on the chart, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” ($524,687) edged upward but still lagged behind the heights it hit with Neil Patrick Harris in the title role, while “Cinderella” ($598,979) earned a robust boost of 30% thanks to the addition of new stars Keke Palmer and Sherri Shepherd. “If/Then” ($698,918) also posted a notable gain.

Broadway cume climbed nearly $2.5 million to $22.3 million for 28 shows on the boards. Attendance rose 25,000 to 228,659, or about 90% of overall capacity. One more title joins the fray in the coming week: “On the Town,” waiting in the wings to start previews Sept. 20.

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