Broadway Box Office: Helen Mirren and ‘The Audience’ Make Royal Exit

The Audience sales Broadway closing week
Joan Marcus

All hail the queen: “The Audience,” the Broadway show that recently won Helen Mirren a Tony for her return to the role of the Queen of England, packed a walloping box office punch in its final week on the boards, posting sales so strong it looked more like a large-scale musical than a play.

The production, which spent its limited engagement doing seven performances a week, stepped up to eight for its final frame, which pushed box office for “The Audience” ($1,425,523) up to within spitting distance of musical “An American in Paris” ($1,433,433), the top-selling new musical of last season. “Audience,” of course, seemed like a slam-dunk even before it began performances, given the prestige-bait allure of Mirren reteaming with writer Peter Morgan to revisit the real-life royal who had already won her an Oscar.

Besides, the traditional Broadway playgoer tends to be something of an anglophile anyway. The star power of Mirren, however, may have diverted some of the New York spotlight from London hit “Wolf Hall” ($515,472), the two-play English-history marathon about Thomas Cromwell. The latter show, which ends its limited run Sunday, was up somewhat after a dramatic dip the prior week.

“The Audience” was easily the top earner of any nonmusical on Broadway last week, although Tony winner “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($973,337) still looked plenty robust, especially for a play that’s been running since last fall. Jim Parsons starrer “An Act of God” ($955,566), which opened in May, continued to log hefty sales, while “Fish in the Dark” ($848,378), which features Jason Alexander starring in the role originated by Larry David, held firm.

Like “The Audience,” Tony champion “Fun Home” ($752,342, a stellar sum for one of Broadway’s smallest theaters) also posted highest-yet numbers, as did “Something Rotten!” ($1,230,619) and “Finding Neverland” ($1,222,133). The latter targets the family audiences that flood Broadway during the tourist season, and both shows seem to be benefiting from positive word of mouth and from the showcases they got during the nationally televised Tony telecast.

Overall it was a strong summer week on Broadway, with warm-weather business helping to balance out the absence of the two shows (“Gigi” and “Skylight”) that closed June 21. The cumulative box office total held firm at $28.3 million for 29 shows now running, with attendance weighing in at 258,532, or 90% of total capacity.

Just as “The Audience” bowed out, a musical made its entrance: “Amazing Grace,” starting slow at $200,392. That’s only to be expected for a new production with very little name recognition; in the coming weeks Broadway watchers will have a better sense of whether the show’s starting to take off.

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