Broadway Box Office: Unlikely Duo of Il Divo and Shakespeare Draw Crowds

Overall B.O. took a bit of a breather prior to the annual Turkey Day bonanza

Il Divo Broadway box office
Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Here’s a sentence you never thought you’d read: The two hot tickets on Broadway last week were William Shakespeare and classical boy-band Il Divo.

It seems unlikely enough that the Bard, much-revived in general and produced almost to a surfeit this season, would prove a big draw, especially in traditional Elizabethan productions of two plays staged in repertory. But prodded by across-the-board raves, the Mark Rylance-led “Richard III”/”Twelfth Night” ($686,649) saw sales jump by a whopping 40%, and that was in a week that included two heavily comped, post-opening press perfs. The spike stood out even more given that most individual titles on the boards posted declines, following a frame boosted by the long Veterans Day weekend.

Helping to make the week wackier: The six performances of concert engagement “Il Divo — A Musical Affair,” which technically stretched over the two weeks ending Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 but were reported together due to the scant number of shows, logged a whopping $1,308,223. Show marks the latest in a string of successful Rialto concert stints, which often capitalize on demand by offering a limited number of perfs to a music act’s rabid fanbase.

Very few shows managed to buck the downward trend as sales took a breath before the boom of Thanksgiving week. Even returning powerhouse “700 Sundays” ($1,067,922), starring Billy Crystal, was off slightly, but that was in a week that included press perfs and opening. Only other shows to rise were “After Midnight” ($635,690), stepping up somewhat after strong reviews earlier this month, and the Roundabout’s revival of “The Winslow Boy” ($291,311), picking up as it heads toward its Dec. 1 closing.

“The Book of Mormon” ($1,695,855) ruled the top 10, with “Kinky Boots” ($1,617,270) sashaying into the penultimate spot ahead of “Wicked” ($1,587,882) and “The Lion King” ($1,437,598). Even in a week that was down compared to the prior sesh, the millionaires’ club counted nine members including “Motown” ($1,306,070), “Betrayal” ($1,243,485) and “Matilda” ($1,062,604).

Many of the Main Stem’s tourist magnets, particularly family-oriented offerings “Cinderella” ($669,091) and “Annie” ($619,968), were hardest hit last week, as were a couple of newer titles — “Big Fish” ($465,471) and “First Date” ($307,911) — that recently posted closing notices. “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($742,595) swung below the $800,000 mark, and exiting play “A Time to Kill” ($227,390) failed to heat up with any last-minute sales.

Among all the declines, newer outing “A Night With Janis Joplin” ($415,279) held relatively steady, as did two previewing productions: the Lincoln Center Theater staging of “Macbeth” ($386,505), starring Ethan Hawke, and “No Man’s Land”/”Waiting for Godot” ($627,102), starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Tuner “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” ($281,423) was down, but could well pick up after scoring some strong reviews in the wake of its Nov. 17 opening.

Even with all the downshifting, Broadway cume ended up slipping less than $1 million to $24.7 million for 33 shows on the boards. Attendance dipped about 5,200 to 247,240, or 80% of overall capacity

The coming week will see critics weigh in on “Macbeth” and “No Man’s Land”/”Waiting for Godot,” and then the Rialto moves into the Turkey Day frame — traditionally one of the most profitable weeks of the year.