Sara Bareilles, the singer-songwriter who penned the score to “Waitress,” stepped into the musical’s lead role Jan. 16, joining fellow pop star Jason Mraz in the production. Bareilles had already proved herself a boon to the musical’s sales in her first stint in the show, around the same time that Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco boosted numbers at “Kinky Boots.” This time around, “Waitress” ($1,608,292) posted its highest gross ever — a jump of more than 50% compared to the musical’s million-plus earnings the previous week.
The gain is even more notable in a week that saw overall Broadway sales drop 15% in the January chill, following a week of robust numbers that were due in part to the long weekend of Martin Luther King Day. Last week, most individual shows saw numbers dip; the only other rise of note was at “John Lithgow: Stories by Heart” ($381,992), up almost 25% in the days after its opening.
Big earners like “Hamilton” ($3,096,068) and “Springsteen on Broadway” ($2,407,328) continued to chug along, even as one strong-selling play, “Meteor Shower” ($911,462) with Amy Schumer, ended its limited run. Still, total Broadway sales fell more than $5 million to $27.7 million for 27 shows, with attendance ringing at 217,004, or 90% of overall capacity.
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With no Bette Midler to bolster it, “Hello, Dolly!” ($372,200 for two) nonetheless looked plenty strong in its first pair of performances with Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber leading the cast. How the show will continue to fare over the long haul — and whether it can match the big money that Midler brought in — remain to be seen.