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Broadway Box Office: Divine Launch for Jim Parsons in ‘An Act of God’

Jim Parsons blessed Broadway with heavenly sales last week, bringing in a hefty tally from the first four previews of new comedy “An Act of God.”

Powered by the fanbase Parsons has built up over his Emmy-winning run in “The Big Bang Theory,” “Act of God” ($477,703 for four previews) played to 92% capacity in the 1,000-seat Studio 54, and — more impressively for a new play with an unfamiliar title — posted sales that averaged 93% of the gross potential. The numbers mark a promising start for David Javerbaum’s new comedy, in which Parsons plays the Almighty. Whether the show continues to post such robust box office in the run-up to its May 28 opening remains to be seen; his last Broadway stint, a 2012 revival of “Harvey,” built up to impressive weekly totals for a nonprofit production.

“Act of God” debuted in a steady week for Broadway, which saw the sales growth at most individual titles balanced by a few major drops at a handful of shows. “The Lion King” ($1,701,798 for seven), for instance, was down by $200,000 because the show’s Sunday matinee went dark to allow for the load-in of the ESPN upfront tomorrow morning at the Minskoff Theater. (The Disney musical nonetheless managed to remain No. 1 on the Top 10.) “On the Town” ($202,745 for four) cancelled four performances for the Univision upfront to be held at the Lyric Theater Tuesday morning, and declined $300,000 because of it.

Dips were also reported at Tony contenders “The King and I” ($951,532) and “Wolf Hall” ($630,653), but that’s to be expected at shows that must accommodate Tony voters in the short window before the June 7 awards ceremony. Despite those incoming voters, though, many nominated titles managed to rise last week, including musicals “An American in Paris” ($1,298,817), “Something Rotten” ($903,211), “On the 20th Century” ($595,851) and “Fun Home” ($571,496), each of which posted best-yet sales — as did plays “The Audience” ($1,167,241) and “Hand to God” ($400,886).

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In what might be a worrying sign, the 20% fall at “Gigi” ($434,201) didn’t have any extenuating circumstances — although a rep for the show promises sales for the production, which stars Vanessa Hudgens, will push back up next week. “Finding Neverland” ($1,041,008), meanwhile, didn’t show any signs of suffering from being shut out at the Tonys, with sales holding steady just above the $1 million mark. (The musical also recently scored four audience awards from Broadway.com.)

Overall Broadway sales held firm at $26.5 million for 34 shows on the boards, with attendance off a bit to 263,268 (or 83% of Main Stem capacity). Average paid admission climbed $2.50 to $100.51 per ticket, likely indicating rising demand at titles recently deemed awards-season contenders. One show, “Doctor Zhivago” ($537,474), closed last week, but didn’t get much of a bump in last-minutes sales.

Numbers for Tony nominees could well downtick across the board in the coming week, with the Broadway League’s annual road conference bringing into town a crowd of voters that nominated productions will need to accommodate.

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