Broadway Box Office: ‘School of Rock,’ ‘The Color Purple’ Launch Strong

School of Rock Broadway sales
Timmy Blupe

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jennifer Hudson and two familiar properties added up to strong initial showings at the Broadway box office for musicals “School of Rock” and “The Color Purple,” both of which began performances last week.

Curiosity about the unexpected pairing of composer Lloyd Webber, best known for Brit megamusicals including “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats,” and Richard Linklater’s tyke-rocker comedy “School of Rock” added up to $928,596 for eight previews, with attendance coming in at about 90% of the week’s capacity at the 1,500-seat Winter Garden. The show also likely benefits from some pre-Broadway buzz thanks to a series of developmental concert stagings (pictured above) earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Hudson’s Broadway debut in “The Color Purple” ($690,820 for six previews) added up to a per-show average of $115,000 — almost exactly on par with the per-show average for “School of Rock.” With Cynthia Erivo and Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black”) also starring, “Color Purple” played to an average of 98% capacity in the 1,050-seat Jacobs Theater.

Also contributing to an overall rise in the Broadway grosses was the sustained interest in Al Pacino’s latest team-up with playwright David Mamet, “China Doll” ($1,202,149 for seven previews), which so far seems to have no trouble warding off the box office effects of bad buzz and a delayed opening night. And in the wake of upbeat reviews, the recently opened musical about Emilio and Gloria Estefan, “On Your Feet” ($1,279,611), hit its highest tally yet.

Those additions to the Broadway pot helped combat the effects of dips at shows including Bruce Willis outing “Misery” ($822,637), which predictably slowed in a week that accommodated press tickets and a heavily comped opening. Most slowdowns at individual productions were relatively minor, and the larger ones came at shows — “The Lion King” ($1,633,344), “Hamilton” ($1,596,311) — that could well afford them.

Among the more recent openers in the Broadway lineup, “A View from the Bridge” ($440,691) managed to rise in its opening week, fresh off the raves it earned in some high-profile outlets, and musical “Allegiance” ($571,750) stepped up significantly in the first full week after its Nov. 8 opening. Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games” ($396,719) opened to lukewarm numbers, and “Dames at Sea” ($201,412) continued to land at the bottom of the Broadway chart.

The week’s cumulative Broadway tally climbed $1.8 million to$28.5 million for 36 shows now running, with overall attendance on the rise to 281,431 or 82% of the Street’s capacity. As business heats up in the weeks leading up to the boffo holiday frames, there’s one more show set to begin performances before Thanksgiving: the new revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” bowing Nov. 20.

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