When it comes to the Fourth of July, the fireworks tend to keep auds away from the Broadway box office. That was the case this year too, with sales down thanks to the distractions of the holiday and to the end of a couple of limited-run engagements — plus the first of two weeks of Bette Midler’s vacation from “Hello, Dolly!”
Donna Murphy, who is usually Midler’s alternate at one performance a week of “Hello, Dolly!” ($936,603), played all eight shows in the first of two weeks of Midler’s previously announced vacation. Box office took a tumble, of course, down from those $2 million tallies driven by sky-high demand for premium tickets. But with Murphy helping to attract theater avids, the show’s gross was still pretty solid.
Overall Broadway sales for the week ending July 2 slid by $3.3 million to just below $32 million for 32 shows running, while attendance fell 19,000 to 282,247. Partly to blame were the beaches, barbecues, fireworks and all the other outdoor activities of the July 4 holiday weekend, tempting theater fans away from Broadway. There was also the fact that there were two fewer shows on the boards than there were the previous week, when both “Sunset Boulevard” (a big earner) and “Sweat” played their final performances.
Last week was the final bow for two more shows, as both “Present Laughter” ($910,174) and “The Little Foxes” ($609,488) closed July 2 — and hit best-ever weekly totals in the process. Both play revivals were recently boosted by Tony wins, with Kevin Kline scoring for “Laughter” and Cynthia Nixon taking one home for “Little Foxes.”
The weekend was also the last hurrah for Josh Groban in “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” ($1,409,877), a best-yet high. Industry watchers have long wondered how sales will hold up after the July 2 departure of the musician, who has been an undeniable sales driver for the show. Observers will get their first clues this week.
The stage adaptation of “1984” ($421,364) rose in the wake of the production’s June 22 opening (and the stir caused by some of its more graphic scenes). “A Doll’s House, Part 2” ($476,124) dipped very slightly just before the announcement of the show’s new cast members (including Tony winner Julie White, who replaces Tony winner Laurie Metcalf once she leaves July 23), while “Indecent” ($313,029), which was supposed to be closed this week until it got a last-minute reprieve, fell following last week’s spike.
Looking ahead, overall Broadway sales should pick up a bit in the aftermath of the Fourth — before the inevitable slow-down that usually comes in late summer.