Broadway audiences can’t get enough of Glenn Close or Andrew Lloyd Webber.
A new revival of Sunset Boulevard grossed an impressive $834,000 in its first five previews last week at the Palace Theatre, according to figures from the trade association the Broadway League. It is Close’s 13th role on Broadway since 1974. And along with Cats, School of Rock and The Phantom of the Opera, the adaptation of the Billy Wilder classic film noir is the fourth Lloyd Webber musical running on Broadway.
Close is reprising her role as aging silent-film star Norma Desmond, for which she won the most recent of her three Tony Awards in 1995. This appears to be a leaner Sunset Boulevard than the 1994 original, which ran for 977 performances but didn’t make money for investors, according to press accounts at the time.
The original cost $13 million, the equivalent of $21 million after accounting for inflation.
The new production has a 40-piece orchestra but is described as a semi-staged concert, without elaborate sets. Its capitalization hasn’t been disclosed. First performed in London last year, where it got strong reviews, it opens on Broadway Thursday night. London critics described Close’s performance as more naturalistic and less campy than Gloria Swanson in the 1950 movie. The show’s book and lyrics are by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, and it’s directed by Lonny Price.
Last week’s tickets cost an average of $120, the third highest on Broadway, after Hamilton and The Book of Mormon. But hampered by frigid weather and the distraction of the Super Bowl, every show but Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton registered sales declines last week. In the Lloyd Webber canon, a revival of Cats fell 12% to $703,000; School of Rock dropped 15% to $707,000 and Phantom lost 5% to $728,000.
Hamilton enjoyed its best non-holiday week ever, gaining 30% to $3.2 million. While it’s been sold out since previews began on Broadway in July 2015, tickets have gotten more expensive. For last week, a big block of seats had retailed for $849.