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Broadway Box Office: ‘Great Comet’ Takes a Half-Million Hit After Josh Groban Exit

How much of a sales driver was Josh Groban’s name on the marquee at “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”? Looks like he was worth about half a million dollars a week, based on the Broadway box office numbers logged by “Great Comet” in its first batch of performances after Groban’s exit.

The big hit taken by “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” ($890,914) — down $518,963, or 37% — was largely expected, given the number of Grobanites that flocked to the stage door after his performances, not to mention the sizable dips the show had experienced at the box office in weeks when Groban was on temporary vacation. (He left for good July 2.)

The challenge for “Great Comet” now is to stabilize without a cross-demographic star (“Hamilton” alum Okieriete Onaodowan steps into the show later this week). The production should be helped along, at least, by the fact that Groban’s 7½-month run endowed the show with some name recognition, and the musical’s well-received number on the Tony telecast could also help keep business steady.

Meanwhile, Tony champ “Dear Evan Hansen” ($1,725,297) showed renewed strength. The title, which walked away with six Tony Awards including best musical, set a new highwater mark for itself, as well as a new high among Broadway theaters with fewer than 1,000 seats. (The Music Box, the current home of “Evan Hansen,” seats 984.) The trophy for best musical is always the most likely to move the needle at the box office, and “Dear Evan Hansen” has the added attraction of Ben Platt’s much-hyped, Tony-winning performance in the lead role.

However, it wasn’t just “Great Comet” that posted a decline last week — most individual shows on Broadway did, thanks in part to the mid-week July 4th holiday, distracting people with fireworks and long vacations. With “Hello, Dolly!” ($722,574) down below $750,000 thanks to the second week of Bette Midler’s vacation, “Dear Evan Hansen” muscled up to No. 4 in the Top 10, pulling ahead of “Aladdin” ($1,618,189) to land just behind “Wicked” ($1,920,520). “Kinky Boots” ($1,320,884) also upticked, still benefiting from the cast addition of Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie.

Except for a few other, smaller-scale rises, the majority of shows dropped — musicals from still-boffo “The Lion King” ($2,262,716) to “Miss Saigon” ($730,221) to “War Paint” (slowing over the last month, down to $601,174), to plays like “Oslo” ($669,470), “A Doll’s House, Part 2” ($450,676) and “1984” ($369,888). Overall Broadway sales dropped by nearly $3 million to $29.1 million for 30 shows on the boards, with attendance falling by more than 25,000 to 256,171.

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