Broadway Box Office: Tide Rises as Sting’s ‘Last Ship’ Launches

A rising tide lifted all boats on Broadway — or most of them, anyway — as sales upticked and attendance rose, with upward motion contributed by new fare including the first previews of Sting musical “The Last Ship” and Ewan McGregor’s initial performances in “The Real Thing.”

“Last Ship,” based on Sting’s 2013 album of the same name, pulled in $533,382 for seven previews and played to houses that averaged 72% full, both solid if unspectacular numbers for the first week of a new show with a relatively unfamiliar title. The figures, as well as producer Jeffrey Seller’s anecdotal evidence about the audience makeup at the show’s early perfs, suggest that the musical likely won’t live or die on the turnout of Sting fans but of the traditional theatergoers who are usually the first to christen a show a hit.

“Real Thing,” the Roundabout Theater Company revival that co-stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Cynthia Nixon, played five previews and logged $264,607. That’s about average for a nonprofit outing in one of the Street’s smaller houses, but those receipts suggest McGregor isn’t one of that rare breed of Hollywood star who’s an instant Broadway sales juggernaut. (See: Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts.)

With a robust lineup of previewing productions that includes megaseller “It’s Only a Play” ($1,248,660) as well as “On the Town” ($565,544) and “Disgraced” ($292,989 for seven), the overall Broadway slate swelled to 32 titles and pushed the overall cume up to $23.2 million. Attendance climbed 14,000 to 242,265, a pretty good showing for a week that incorporated Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday that usually takes a bite out of the Main Stem’s weekly tally.

With the fall season heating up, two shows opened: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($501,192) and “The Country House” ($196,922). Both posted declines, but that’s to be expected with critics’ perfs and heavily-comped openings. “Curious Incident” in particular looks poised for a boost, following the glowing reviews the London hit earned in the Gotham papers this morning following its Oct. 5 opening.

Meanwhile, in its final week, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” ($762,599) hit a new high powered by auds grabbing at their last chance to catch Audra McDonald’s Tony-winning turn as Billie Holiday.

Despite the overall B.O. rise, some individual shows slipped including the fluctuating “Cinderella” ($487,724) and “If/Then” ($456,099), with the latter down in part because of topliner Idina Menzel’s scheduled absence over three shows.

The Street’s outlook for the coming week, at any rate, is optimistic, as Columbus Day weekend promises to bring in tourist traffic that’ll keep box office on a roll.

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