The Broadway box office got a nice jolt last week, with Bette Midler’s final weeks driving up prices at “Hello, Dolly!,” Bruce Springsteen returning after a week off and Mark Rylance’s latest New York stage outing, “Farinelli and the King,” looking regal in its first week.
“Farinelli and the King” ($767,377 for seven previews) sounds like a tough sell — a new play about a Spanish king’s fondness for a castrato, presented in a candelit, true-to-the-period production — but last week’s promising tally suggests the show could carve out a healthy run sustained by the theater avids who turned out for “Richard III/Tweflth Night,” another Shakespeare’s Globe production presented in a similarly Elizabethan style. A big part of the draw is the Broadway return of Rylance, who was already a favorite among theater fans, but is now gaining wider recognition after his Oscar win for “Bridge of Spies” and his recent turn in “Dunkirk.”
Meanwhile, the escalating sales at “Hello, Dolly!” ($2,519,456) broke another record at the Shubert Theater, “Springsteen on Broadway” ($2,2401,603 for five performances) picked up right where it left off (and averaged more than $500 a ticket), and fall opener “The Band’s Visit” ($1,079,793) played to robust grosses and sold-out crowds. Add all that up, and it helps explain why the overall tally for the week ending Dec. 10 came in at $35.3 million — about $4 million more than the same week last season, when there were also 32 shows playing.
Almost every individual show on the boards posted a rise, including recent openers like Amy Schumer headliner “Meteor Shower” ($971,021) and Uma Thurman vehicle “The Parisian Woman” ($771,834). Ditto for “Once On This Island” ($543,614), which stands ready to climb even higher in the wake of rave reviews, and “SpongeBob SquarePants” ($652,246), up in its opening week and likely to benefit further from unexpectedly strong notices.
In the coming week, both “Farinelli” and Manhattan Theater Club’s “The Children” ($234,714) will open — and then Broadway can brace itself for the wave of Yuletide business that last year droves sales up to within spitting distance of $50 million.