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Broadway Box Office Cashes in on Good Bette

'I'll Eat You Last,' starring Bette Midler, posts encouraging sales from initial previews

Broadway Box Office Cashes on Good Bette
Ellen von Unwerth

As Tom Hanks topliner “Lucky Guy” continued to rake it in at the Broadway box office last week, star-driven plays led by Better Midler and Alec Baldwin joined the fray and Midler outing “I’ll Eat You Last” logged particularly notable biz.

“Eat” pulled in $313,705 from just three previews — a strong tally in the Booth Theater, at just 782 seats, and just slightly more than the show’s official gross potential. That’s an indicator that demand was strong enough to drive premium-ticket sales, pushing the average price paid per ducat to almost $134.

That figure is in the range of the ones reported in recent weeks of “Lucky Guy” ($1,226,451), which managed to top the $1 million mark despite a frame that accommodated the heavily comped opening night and subsequent second-night press tickets. Of course, even if demand keeps up at “I’ll Eat You Last,” the show would likely never match the overall sales of “Lucky Guy” due to the differences in ticket inventory (with 1,182 seats at the Broadhurst, the “Lucky Guy” venue). But producers would still make out nicely.

Baldwin, meanwhile, co-stars with Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge in “Orphans,” which took in $595,471 for eight previews. The figure won’t break any records, but it’s still a relatively healthy number for a three-actor revival of a title few people recognize.

Also last week Alan Cumming starrer “Macbeth” ($92,285) started perfs, playing just a single preview and reporting a solid (and potentially auspicious) gross from it.

Among other previewing shows, “Motown” ($1,130,744) topped $1 million for the fourth straight week. That’s in part a testament to the global appeal of the familiar Motown music that makes up the score; whether reviews, set to hit after the show’s April 14 opening, have any effect on the momentum remains to be seen.

Overall, it was a blooming spring week for the Rialto with a dozen shows currently in previews — not to mention 12 titles earning more than $1 million each. Heck, both “Wicked” ($2,257,034) and “The Lion King” ($2,081,319) managed to break the $2 million barrier, while longrunner “The Phantom of the Opera” ($1,368,904) continued to stake out a spot in the Top 10 and “Cinderella” ($1,243,857) logged the highest tally of the week among the shows that have so far opened this season. (Another of this year’s openers, “Annie,” wasn’t far behind with $1,120,203.)

Main Stem cume for 32 total shows came in at $25,899,686, down around $2.6 million from the holiday-inflated sesh the prior week. The cume also wasn’t as high as the same week in 2012, although it’s worth noting that last year Easter (and its attendant box office bump) fell during this frame rather than the week prior.

In general the Street’s non-musicals mostly clustered in the lowered half of the chart, including “The Trip to Bountiful” ($441,915), “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” ($371,075), “The Nance” ($367,937) and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s ($337,621). Fiona Shaw starrer “The Testament of Mary” ($196,495) and “The Assembled Parties” ($156,671) each played seven-preview weeks.

While previewing tuner “Pippin” ($661,104) pulled in solid sales, recent opener “Hands on a Hardbody” ($240,040) still struggled to parlay some favorable reviews into healthy B.O. The limited run of tuner “Jekyll and Hyde” ($341,454) kicked off its inital perfs last week, playing five previews.

“Kinky Boots” ($775,687), which opened last week, was down thanks to its April 4 opening night and press perfs. But earning a generally upbeat batch of reviews in the wake of opening, the show seems poised to build some momentum in the coming frames.