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Broadway Box Office: Tony Awards Attention Pumps Sellout Sales for Nominees

The post-Memorial Day hangover may have deflated Broadway B.O. a bit last week, but that didn’t stop some of this season’s Tony nominees from playing to packed houses.

Three of the four contenders for the new musical trophy — Disney’s “Aladdin” ($1,196,720), Carole King bio “Beautiful” ($1,079,349) and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($700,979) — played to capacity crowds, as did Denzel Washington starrer “A Raisin in the Sun” ($1,185,576) and Neil Patrick Harris topliner “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” ($979,243), titles in the Tony race for play revival and musical revival, respectively. The only other show to top 100% capacity last week was, predictably, the consistently ultra-hot “The Book of Mormon” ($1,628,410).

Most of those shows, including “Mormon” (though not “Aladdin”), have the advantage of playing in some of the Rialto’s smaller houses (at less than 1,100 seats each), thereby making it easier for them to sell out than, say, “Wicked” ($1,804,729), with a seating capacity that goes as high as 1,928. Still, the Tony buzz certainly must have helped those current nominees keep traffic up, even if the slow-burn box office at “Gentleman’s Guide” hasn’t reached the same heights as “Aladdin” or “Beautiful” (pictured above).

Not every player in the Tony derby was so lucky. Take the fourth title in the new musical race, “After Midnight” ($483,964), which played to 71% capacity last week with Fantasia in the tuner’s guest-star seat. Despite the Tony attention, the tuner’s still waiting on a boost that could potentially come with the summer stints of its upcoming big-name guest stars, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole, not to mention LaBelle and Knight’s tubthumping appearance in the Tony telecast Sunday.

Without the long weekend of Memorial Day to encourage tourist biz, overall Broadway sales slipped by $3 million, or around 10%, to $27.9 million for 35 shows on the boards. Attendance dropped about 25,000, or 8%, to 274,339, totaling 83% of the Main Stem’s overall capacity.

Every single title on the boards reported a decline, ranging from the infinitesimal (“Raisin” and “Hedwig”) to the significant, as at “Pippin” (down 30% to $488,036) or “The Realistic Joneses” (off 25% to $432,608).

Regardless, Tony contenders can hope for a sales bump after their appearances on the nationally televised awards ceremony June 8, and the Rialto overall can look forward to the coming weeks, when the city’s annual tide of summer tourists helps kick Broadway box office up a notch.

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