Nearly 20 years in the making, A Strange Loop is having a moment.
In the seven days ending on Sunday, Michael R. Jackson’s newly minted Tony Award-winning best musical had its highest-grossing week since it opened in late April, at $845,000. That was up 23 percent from two weeks earlier, according to Broadway League data. (The week before the Tonys is a difficult comparison because Strange Loop, which also won for book of a musical, had seven performances instead of the customary eight.)
Producer Barbara Whitman and the Shubert Organization capitalized on the win by raising its top ticket price 23 percent to $373. Its average ticket jumped $11 in two weeks to $116, a price, for now, on par with Beetlejuice and The Book of Mormon but $47 below the royal hit Six.
Weekly sales for Strange Loop — about a Black gay man struggling for acceptance from himself and his family — were in the same ballpark as The Band’s Visit and Fun Home a week after they won best musical. Like Strange Loop, both shows skew more experimental than commercial and ran a relatively short 17 months on Broadway. (Whitman was a lead producer of Fun Home.)
Running even that long may be a challenge for Jackson’s funny and endearing semi-autobiographical musical, given the ongoing pandemic and a narrative some may consider family unfriendly. In the show, the ‘F’ word is uttered or sung 60 times, the ‘N’ word 18 times and the ‘D’ word — nickname for Richard — 32 times, according to its script. (For what it’s worth, I saw it three times and would happily go again.)
MJ, produced by Lia Vollack and the estate of the other Michael Jackson, saw sales jump 15 percent to $1.7 million. Although it wasn’t named best musical, MJ was technically the most-winning new musical, with four Tonys, including for moonwalker extraordinaire Myles Frost, who led a magnetic performance of “Smooth Criminal” on the CBS telecast. (MJ in particular may have benefited from increased tourism during the three-day weekend.)
Grosses for Company, the Marianne Elliott-directed, gender-bending revival of the Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical comedy that won five Tonys, gained 14 percent to $727,000. Yesterday, lead producer Chris Harper said the revival will end its Broadway run on July 31.
Paradise Square, the Garth Drabinsky-produced new musical, reported that grosses soared an impressive 47 percent after its lead actress, Joaquina Kalukango, won for lead actress in a musical and performed a rousing number at the Tonys. But it was starting from a depressed base, and its $388,000 in sales was still below its weekly breakeven of $599,000, per an estimate in its 2019 operating agreement filed with New York state.
Broadway grosses overall fell 7 percent to $29.5 million. Two plays closed the previous week — Take Me Out and How I Learned to Drive — and The Music Man‘s sales dropped by nearly half after Hugh Jackman took a leave because he tested positive for Covid-19.