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Billy Crystal Brings ‘700 Sundays’ Back to Broadway

New York gets another starry solo outing with a return lap for Crystal's autobio hit

Billy Crystal has marked his calendar for the Broadway return of “700 Sundays,” the autobiographical solo show that proved a box office powerhouse when it preemed on the Rialto in 2004.

Crystal made his Main Stem debut in the show and hasn’t been back since. The repeat engagement looks as close to a sure B.O. bet as you can get on the Rialto, given the relatively low running costs of a pre-existing one-man show starring a thesp who’s already established his formidable sales strength in Gotham.

At one point during the show’s original run the production’s robust sales tally hit more than $1 million in a single week, which was a major feat eight years ago when premium-priced seating hadn’t become the Broadway staple it is now.

Show won a 2005 Tony for special theatrical experience, a category that has since been eliminated. In the 2013-14 Tony mix, “700 Sundays” would almost certainly be considered a play revival.

Penned by Billy Crystal with additional material by Alan Zweibel, “700 Sundays” recounts the story of Crystal’s New York City youth through his teenage years and into adulthood. Des McAnuff (“Jersey Boys”) helms the production, which was developed at the San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse (where McAnuff was a.d. at the time) and went on to play successful outings in a string of North American cities (including Toronto and L.A.) and in Australia.

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“700 Sundays” this fall follows on the heels of a spring season that yielded a number of starry solo shows, including Bette Midler starrer “I’ll Eat You Last” (shaping up into a B.O. heavyweight in its own right), Holland Taylor topliner “Ann” and “Macbeth,” starring Alan Cumming in what is essentially a one-man rendition of the Bard tragedy.

The financial model can be one of the least risky Broadway propositions, especially with a bankable star, but as this season has illustrated, a glut of star-driven plays can lead to competish that can make the route to B.O. success more difficult.

“700 Sundays” will play a nine-week engagement at the Imperial Theater starting Nov. 5 and running through Jan. 5, a window during which the production is primed to take advantage of the holiday tourists who pack into theaters during the season. The Imperial’s current occupant, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” shutters June 15.

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