Broadway got a few intimations of its annual spring crush last week, as two notable titles — “Eclipsed,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, and the Steve Martin-Edie Brickell musical “Bright Star” — joined the roster at the Broadway box office, ahead of more productions on the way.
“Eclipsed” ($400,315 for seven previews), fueled by Nyong’o’s star power and the buzz the show earned in its acclaimed Off Broadway run, posted solid sales for a drama whose subject matter (the captive wives of a Liberian warlord) would seem to make it a tough sell. Attendance came in at a promising 97%.
“Bright Star” ($206,573 for four previews) seems to have a tougher climb ahead of it. The show, based on a country-bluegrass album Martin and Brickell collaborated on, doesn’t fall into the comedy wheelhouse of Martin’s most popular work, and the low-key musical will probably need some time to let ticket buyers know what it is.
The two shows made their debut in a down week for the Rialto overall, as a late-February lull, prior to the upcoming rush of spring break, hobbled both sales and attendance numbers. With 31 shows playing, overall sales came in at $20 million, down almost $4 million from the previous week. Attendance slumped, falling by more than 27,000 to 218,809, or 73% of Broadway’s overall seating capacity for the week’s performances.
Almost every single show took a hit, with the biggest drops reported at the big-name musicals that rise and fall with the city’s tourist tides. Only two shows bucked the trend: “Hamilton” ($1,755,010), of course, once again snagging the top spot on the top 10, and “The Humans” ($344,276), up by almost $95,000 in its post-opening week, powered by rave reviews.
“Blackbird” ($399,452), starring Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams, held fairly steady in the face of widespread declines, although last season’s hit play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($392,453), dipped below the $400,000 mark. Among musicals, many of the larger-scale crowd-pleasers were down by multiple hundreds of thousands, ranging from “The Lion King” ($1,469,120) and “Wicked” ($1,295,960) to “School of Rock” ($720,585) and “Finding Neverland” ($455,737). Meanwhile, previewing musical “Disaster!” ($261,661) is still struggling to turn heads.
Despite the overall downward spiral, however, producers can at least look forward to the fact that the coming week is usually the time that grosses start to pick up, as the rolling schedule of spring breaks at academic institutions starts to kick in.