Spurred by its victories at the Tony Awards and by the return of its Tony-winning star, the musical revival of “The Color Purple” took a mighty leap upward at the Broadway box office last week, as did a couple of shows that threw in the towel over the weekend, “Bright Star” and “The King and I.”
The 43% boost at “The Color Purple” ($799,021) was as big as it was in part because the prior week had been notably down, due to the vacation of the show’s freshly minted Tony winner Cynthia Erivo. But last week’s rise, fueled also by the production’s win for best musical revival, went well beyond where the show had been before Erivo’s vacation, hitting the best tally the show has posted since the departure of its biggest-name headliner, Jennifer Hudson.
Meanwhile, “Bright Star” ($708,013), the well-reviewed Steve Martin-Edie Brickell musical that never managed to turn enough heads on Broadway, reported its highest gross ever in its final week, while “The King and I” ($840,824), which Lincoln Center Theater decided to shutter in the wake of star Kelli O’Hara’s exit, hit the best numbers it’s achieved since O’Hara left in April.
Another show that won its star a Tony, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($502,602) with Jessica Lange, also finished out its run, playing to a full house in its final days.
Elsewhere along the Street, several musical crowd-pleasers gained momentum with summer tourists in town, including “Wicked” ($1,969,159), “School of Rock” ($1,250,456), “Matilda” ($990,756) and “Kinky Boots” ($742,726). “Waitress” ($1,100,048) achieved its highest total yet.
At the top of the Top 10, “The Lion King” ($2,113,062) and “Hamilton” ($2,007,222) led the way, while a little further down the chart, “Shuffle Along” ($814,942) wobbled in the same week that saw producers opt to shutter the production unexpectedly. The drop might have been attributable to the fact that the show’s ticket-selling star, Audra McDonald, was initially supposed to depart the production June 20, which might have affected advanced sales for the week. (McDonald will now leave July 24, when the production closes.)
Broadway’s cumulative tally for the week rose a bit to $28.9 million for 32 shows, with attendance coming in at 273,633, or 86% of the overall seating capacity. Those are solid numbers — but don’t expect them to hold out in the coming week, when the outdoor distractions of the July 4 holiday weekend stand poised to pull people away from the theater.