“Love Letters,” the two-actor staged reading with a rotating cast of stars, has had trouble gaining B.O. momentum since it opened earlier this fall, but last week looked like a good start. In a frame when most titles dipped, “Love Letters” ($483,280) climbed more than 20% with sales propelled by Alda and Bergen, who joined the production Nov. 9 and recently extended their stint in the show through Dec. 18.
Meanwhile, “Elephant Man” ($966,896) trumpeted a new box office record at the Booth Theater. Cooper’s sales muscle — magnified by a familiar title and by the curiosity factor in watching the leading man play the famously disfigured title character –- is logging numbers even better than “I’ll Eat You Last,” the Bette Midler topliner that was the most recent star-driven play to hit new highs at the same 775-seat theater.
Also looking good last week was Emma Stone in “Cabaret” ($686,271), with the drop the show would have taken due to the four previously scheduled absences of Alan Cumming softened, no doubt, by Stone’s addition to the cast.
Previewing musical “Side Show” ($449,747) also rose despite accommodating press performances ahead of its Nov. 17 opening. Meanwhile, the well-received Broadway incarnation of London hit “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($907,142) upticked (topping $900,000 for the first time), as did critical fave “On the Town” ($843,648).
Overall, however, Broadway box office softened just a bit as the Street waited for the annual explosion of tourism that hits every Turkey Day. Last week the Broadway cume slipped by more than $1 million to $26.4 million for 35 shows on the boards. Attendance was off only about 5,000 to 259,956, but ticket demand tapered enough that the average price paid per seat slid $3 to $101.
It was one of those weeks in which both “The Lion King” ($1,527,989) and “Wicked” ($1,361,722) dipped enough to let “The Book of Mormon” ($1,594,690), a consistent megaseller in one of Broadway’s smaller musical houses, rise to the top of the Top 10. Starry comedy “It’s Only a Play” ($1,370,168) managed to squeeze in ahead of “Wicked.”
“The River” ($723,882) saw sales dip, but no one should be alarmed that Hugh Jackman is losing his box office mojo — the production had press performances and a heavily comped opening night last week. Closely watched Sting musical “The Last Ship” ($536,449), meanwhile, held steady.
After “Side Show” bows tonight, only a few more opening nights remain before the end of the year – including “Elephant Man” and Glenn Close starrer “A Delicate Balance” ($852,393), another strong-selling play on the boards this fall.