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Broadway Box Office: Plays Take Center Stage

With fewer tourists in town to pack into big-name musical crowdpleasers, plays got a little room to breath at the Broadway box office last week as nonmusical titles, including well-received comedy “Noises Off,” took a turn in the spotlight.

In a week that saw many individual shows post declines of varying sizes, the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of “Noises Off” ($508,885) seems to be picking up some sales momentum as it pratfalls down the stairs of its three-month run. The show played to audiences at 98% capacity and saw weekly sales rise by more than 15%.

Plays in general got a lot of the hype last week, as the well-reviewed revival of “A View From the Bridge” ($538,668) got a jolt of last-minute sales in its final week on the boards.  Meanwhile, “The Humans” ($250,540) posted gains despite accommodating press previews and its heavily comped opening-night performance last week. Given the raves the latter show drew from the critics, those weekly tallies look sure to rise.

More plays step up in the coming week, too, as Forest Whitaker outing “Hughie” ($298,616) heads toward its Feb. 25 opening and Lupita Nyong’o starts previews in “Eclipsed” tomorrow. Last week another previewing play, “Blackbird” ($417,989), starring Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels, played its first full week of eight performances, gearing up for its March 10 opening.

Musicals, of course, still dominated the top 10, with two all-ages attractions, “The Lion King” ($1,851,720) and “School of Rock” ($1,152,012), stepping up significantly. “Lion King” retook the No. 1 spot on the top 10 from “Hamilton” ($1,750,924), which just barely topped “Wicked” ($1,747,324); “Aladdin” ($1,486,893), “The Book of Mormon” ($1,365,956) and “On Your Feet!” ($1,032,021) rounded out the week’s millionaires’ club.

With “Noises Off” going strong for Roundabout, the theater company also began previews of its revival of “She Loves Me” ($227,422 for four previews), playing to houses that were about 80% full. In its second week, spoofy tuner “Disaster!” ($333,537) held relatively steady, given that many shows faced declines last week.

Overall Broadway sales fell $1.75 million to $24 million for 30 shows now running. Attendance slipped by about 8,000 to 246,349 (or 84% of the Rialto’s cumulative capacity), and the average price paid per ticket, a reliable indicator of ticket demand, went down by about $3.75 to $97.23 as Broadway came off the relative high of the long weekend for Presidents’ Day.

Looking ahead, “Eclipsed” isn’t the only show to begin previews in the coming days. Also up at bat is the Steve Martin-Edie Brickell musical “Bright Star,” which joins the fray Feb. 25.

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