Broadway Box Office: Tony Nominations Help ‘Waitress,’ ‘Shuffle Along’ Hit New Highs

Waitress Broadway sales
Joan Marcus

The Broadway box office got a leg up last week from the 2016 Tony Awards nominations, with musical contenders “Waitress” and “Shuffle Along” hitting new highs alongside play candidates “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “The Humans.”

With 10 noms under its belt, “Shuffle Along” got the biggest boost, rising more than $200,000 (or about 30%) to a best-yet tally of $924,352. Although “Waitress,” with four nods, posted a smaller rise, it nonetheless bested itself with $960,477 for the week; reps for the productions said the show had wrapped some $1.1 million in single ticket sales since the nominations announcement.

Musical revival “The Color Purple” ($967,352) hit some of its best numbers yet (excluding holiday weeks), but how much of that came from its four Tony nominations isn’t yet clear. The rise was likely driven at least as much, if not more, by last-minute sales from theatergoers catching co-star Jennifer Hudson before she departed the production May 8.

“Bright Star” ($416,362), which surprised Broadway watchers when it came away with five nominations, upticked, and no doubt hopes to rise further as awards season draws on. Another title in the best musical race, “School of Rock” ($816,811), actually dropped, but that’s probably due in part to the fact that the prior week’s grosses were inflated by the family audiences who turned out for shows during the spring break session of New York City’s public schools.

In most years, the musical with the highest number of nominations would get a great big boost — but then, this isn’t most years. Nominated 16 times, “Hamilton” ($1,833,473) posted boffo numbers, but after a full season of stellar sales, last week’s tally wasn’t quite its highest.

Among plays, the starry production of “The Crucible” ($618,331), which has been doing well all along, led the pack. But the Roundabout Theater Company’s well-reviewed, star-driven revival of  “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($433,606), which earned seven noms including one for Jessica Lange, hit a new peak, as did “The Humans” ($432,744), the glowingly-reviewed production that could certainly use the awards-season boost.

Overshadowed in all the awards hubbub: “Tuck Everlasting” ($282, 911), which barely earned a mention in Tony coverage thanks to its single nomination. With a gross that low, it’s looking doubtful whether the production will be able to push through until it finds the all-ages audience that would sustain it.

Overall Broadway sales slipped a bit to $27.6 million for 37 shows, with attendance also slowing slightly to 281,042 (or 78% of overall capacity). Looking ahead, the Street will have one fewer show on it now that “Disaster!” ($387,184) has thrown in the towel despite its one Tony nomination. But we’ve got one more opening on the horizon with Cirque du Soleil’s “Paramour” ($1,074,996 for seven previews), continuing its impressive sales streak on the way to its May 25 bow.