Carole King visits Broadway 'Beautiful'

Famous faces helped keep some Broadway titles buoyant in an ebb-tide week, as Neil Patrick Harris, Denzel Washington, Bryan Cranston and — indirectly — Carole King pumped interest in their respective shows.

Harris, for one, proved that the boffo early numbers for the first preview of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the tuner he toplines, were no fluke. “Hedwig” ($772,606 for six) continued to pull in major sales, especially for a theater that, at 1,002 seats, sits on the smaller end of the Broadway size spectrum. The musical’s average price paid per ticket — a good gauge of consumer demand — came close to $130, putting it in the same league as last year’s Tony winner “Kinky Boots” (although both came in behind juggernaut “The Book of Mormon” at $183).

Meanwhile, King paid an incognito visit April 3 to “Beautiful” ($868,034), the musical about her life and work — or at least it was incognito until it turned into a much-hyped photo op that seems to have helped turn ticket buyers’ heads. In the wake of the tacit seal of approval her attendance bestowed on the show, “Beautiful” posted the biggest B.O. bump of the week (discounting those shows whose numbers rose because of a week-over-week increase in performance count).

Denzel Washington topliner “A Raisin in the Sun” ($929,151) fell out of the millionaires’ club last week, but that won’t last — the drop was due to the show’s press perfs and heavily comped opening night. Even with the dip, the production did well enough to land it in the top 10 right behind Idina Menzel starrer “If/Then” ($931,268).

The latter also slid below $1 million, but how much of that is attributable to the production’s mixed reviews remains to be seen, since the tuner was still accommodating second-night press tickets last week.

All those spring titles, along with Cranston outing “All the Way” ($917,842), looked particularly robust when you take into account the fact that spring-break season is on the wane, pushing overall Broadway attendance down by around 10,000 to 279,366. Broadway cume slipped more than $2 million to $27 million for 36 shows on the boards.

Recent opener “Aladdin” ($1,170,038), propelled by upbeat reviews and its family-friendly title, was one of the few shows to uptick last week, while the new revival of “Les Miserables” ($1,153,829) also maintained a prime spot in a top 10 that was led last week by “Wicked” ($1,806,067). Following a nice rise the prior sesh, “Rocky” ($753,365) took a hit last week; the same was true for “Bullets Over Broadway” ($765,755), although the latter could be poised to get a bump from incoming reviews in the wake of its April 10 opening.

Toplined by Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming, previewing tuner “Cabaret” ($594,765 for seven) added one more show to its performance sked and was up 20%, while Audra McDonald vehicle “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” ($363,460) also upticked.

Among new plays, the James Franco-Chris O’Dowd starrer “Of Mice and Men” ($823,309) slackened somewhat but still held strong, while the starry “The Realistic Joneses” ($410,334) looks ready to take off thanks to the critical praise the show earned after its April 6 opening.

Two more titles joined the Broadway fray last week, and while Harvey Fierstein’s latest, “Casa Valentina” ($155,775 for seven), performed about on par with what you’d expect for a new title at a nonprofit, the glacial start at commercial outing “The Velocity of Autumn” ($135,307 for seven) underscored the fact that the new play has an uphill road ahead of it.

The question on everybody’s mind in the coming week centers on how the critics will respond to “Bullets,” notices for which could both influence box office and cement the title as an awards contender in a new musical race that right now looks wide open.

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