Starry musicals got off to a strong start in what was the industry’s best seven days since the first week of the year. Sales were $27.7 million, up 16 percent from the week before and up 17 percent from the same week last season, according to data from the Broadway League.
War Paint, with Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone as cosmetics icons Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, grossed $800,000 in seven previews. It’s by the same creative team as 2006’s Grey Gardens. And former Hamilton lead Phillipa Soo apparently proved a draw in Amélie. The adaptation of the 2001 movie did $377,000 in four previews. Average tickets to both exceeded $100.
The numbers indicate that there’s healthy appetite for promising new work in the busiest season for musicals since 1980-81. Dear Evan Hansen had its best non-holiday week, selling $1.2 million of tickets at a personal-best average of $146. And reviews last night for Come From Away suggest another serious contender at Tony time. The feel-good 9/11 musical set in welcoming Gander, Newfoundland, did a respectable $632,000, despite no stars and lots of free tickets dispensed around the opening. Sales should pick up this week, although tomorrow’s blizzard won’t help.
Sunday in the Park With George, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, continued its four-week sales ascent. Thanks to tickets as dear as $499, the revival had the second-highest average seat on Broadway, at $147, second only to Hamilton. It sold $1.1 million. And the revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter, with Kevin Kline, grossed $255,000 in just two previews.
Plays without stars were another story, although Sweat by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage and the acclaimed new English farce The Play that Goes Wrong are likely to benefit from critical support when they open in a few weeks. Significant Other, the new comedy critically abandoned by the Times, was little changed at an anemic $166,000. Weekly running costs for a drama on Broadway are typically a few hundred thousand dollars.