Broadway Box Office: Neil Patrick Harris Looks Legendary in ‘Hedwig’ Launch

Neil Patrick Harris Hedwig Broadway

If it were possible to gauge a Broadway musical’s box office prospects from a single performance alone, then Neil Patrick Harris’ turn in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” looks legendary.

But we’ll have to, ahem, wait for it if we want to know for sure whether that early promise will stick: First previews often attract an inflated crowd of curious fans, and besides, last week was packed with spring-break tourists that boosted biz at shows across the board. Still, with a tally of $144,194 from one preview in a 1,000-seat theater more often booked by plays, “Hedwig” is off to a remarkably strong start.

That show isn’t the only one. Disney’s recent opener “Aladdin” ($1,104,798) topped $1 million for the first time, and the family-friendly title is said to have amassed an advance of some $15 million, while the Denzel Washington topliner “A Raisin in the Sun” ($1,045,534) and Idina Menzel starrer “If/Then” ($1,002,321) each spent a second frame in the millionaires’ club. The latter’s berth there is made even more impressive by the fact that “If/Then” last week accommodated comps from press perfs and its March 30 opening night.

The current revival of “Les Miserables” ($1,222,317), which opened the prior sesh, continued to do barricade-storming business while James Franco vehicle “Of Mice and Men” ($868,728) logged its second robust frame and Bryan Cranston outing “All the Way” ($949,056) pulled in big bucks for a play. Taken together, it’s all enough, almost, to remind legiters of last spring, when the Street yielded an unusually long string of strong sellers.

But not every new show has come on like gangbusters — most notably “The Bridges of Madison County” ($352,896), the new musical that actually declined somewhat in a week that saw upticks at almost every other production now running. Previewing “Bullets Over Broadway” ($886,469) encouragingly gained speed, while “Rocky” ($828,848) also picked up a bit of momentum but could use some more.

Play “The Realistic Joneses” ($462,236) put in relatively solid if unspectacular numbers, while the first week of perfs for Audra McDonald vehicle “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” ($337,951 for seven previews) got a predictably slow start for a show battling the marketing challenges of being a last-minute addition to the spring sked.

The Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of “Cabaret” ($494,440 for six previews), starring Michelle Williams, posted so-so figures, although that low-skewing tally is mitigated by the fact that it’s a nonprofit production. The same can be said for a couple more not-for-profit outings now in previews,  “Act One” ($318,292) and “Violet” ($169,792 for its first four previews).

All that new activity helped contribute to rising Broadway sales already pumped by the city’s influx of spring-break visitors, driving attendance up by 20,000 to 289,602 (or almost 90% of overall capacity). Broadway cume came in at $29 million for 35 shows on the boards, with a dozen titles surpassing $1 million each including chart toppers “Wicked” ($1,946,536) and “The Lion King” ($1,885,162).

With three shows joining the slate last week, Broadway is almost full up for the season — but not quite. “No Man’s Land/Waiting for Godot” ($782,396), starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, ended its limited run last week, making way for the Daniel Radcliffe-toplined staging of “The Cripple of Inishmaan” that begins previews at the Cort April 12.

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  1. jennadewitt says:

    so… you’re telling me this is a story about Hedwig and mentions Daniel Radcliffe and has nothing to do with my fandom.

  2. ThomT says:

    Strange that Michele Williams is referred to as starring in “Cabaret” with no mention of Alan Cummings reprising his Tony winning performance at the MC. I know Cummings was out of a couple of previews due to a bout of the flu (which certainly had to have impacted last minute ticket sales) but I’ve heard nothing to indicate that he’ll not be back on board prior to opening night.

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