In the final week on the boards, the Broadway revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” went out with a bang — especially compared to the rest of the Street, where a lot of individual shows saw their box office tallies decline.
There were plenty of reasons for overall receipts to be down last week. First, it was the first frame of the post-Labor Day period that is often one of Broadway’s most fallow periods, thanks to the usual back-to-school distractions. Then on Sept. 13 came Rosh Hashanah — one of the two Jewish holidays this month that tend to sap sales. Besides all that, last week was the first of Broadway Week, the two-for-one ticket initiative that kept revenue down even at shows where attendance held firm.
But “Hedwig” ($625,159) was among the productions bucking the overall sales dip. Last-minute business couldn’t drive the show up into the million-plus heights the production regularly achieved with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead role, but the week’s tally still represented a 40% bump up compared to the prior week. Attendance hit capacity, and the final performance brought out past Hedwigs Harris and Darren Criss, as well as Harris’ fellow “Hedwig” Tony winner Lena Hall, for a starry curtain call.
“Hedwig” was one of two shows to close last week, along with 14-year-old “Mamma Mia!” ($886,681), off about 7% compared to the prior week. The show had seen grosses inflate in its final days; the slip was probably due in part to the two-for-one deals of Broadway Week, since attendance held steady week-to-week.
While two shows exited, one jumped into the ring: the Deaf West revival of “Spring Awakening” ($448,879), which posted decent sales for a slow week, and for a largely unheralded revival that was a last-minute addition to Broadway’s fall slate.
Otherwise, sales were something of a mixed bag last week. Some longrunners –“Chicago” ($631,817), “Jersey Boys” ($691,833), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($844,824) reaped solid gains from the half-price week. Two Tony winners, “The King and I” ($903,608) and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($768,656), also rose.
But sometimes the half-off initiative cut into sales even at in-demand shows where attendance rose, as at shows including “Wicked” ($1,472,236) and “Aladdin” ($1,386,168). Even buzzmagnet “Hamilton” ($1,561,640) dipped after its stellar showing over Labor Day weekend (although it still managed to come in at No. 2 on the Top 10), and also downshifting were shows including “Kinky Boots” ($878,766), “Something Rotten!” ($839,012), “Finding Neverland” ($805,827) and “Fun Home” ($679,175).
Overall attendance was actually up last week compared to the prior frame, climbing about 4,500 to 213,253 (or 87% of total capacity), but predictably, the average price paid per ticket declined about $6 to around $100. Cumulative box office slipped less than $1 million to $21.4 million for 24 shows on the boards.
This week, the second half of the Broadway Week program — not to mention the usual September slowdown — looks poised to keep sales modest, even with two starry plays,”Old Times” with Clive Owen and “Fool for Love” with Sam Rockwell, begin previews.