In a rare feat for a non-musical on Broadway, Mike Nichols’ acclaimed revival of Death of a Salesman grossed just over $1 million last week, according to figures released by the Broadway League. The hit show, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman and Andrew Garfield as his wayward son, Biff, set a new record for the 1,036-seat Barrymore Theatre. What’s even more remarkable is that Salesman scored at the box office despite playing only seven performances (most Broadway shows are mounted eight times per week). The production isn’t exactly a dime a dozen, to quote one of Biff’s lines: It’s been boosted by an A-list cast, stellar reviews, multiple Tony nominations, and a strictly limited engagement that’s let producers charge a premium for tickets. Last week’s average ticket price was a whopping $140.68, which enabled the show to earn 107 percent of the theater’s potential gross. That’s good news for the show’s investors, who announced May 16 that they’d already recouped their $3.1 million commitment to the show.
Salesman joined six other shows in the million-dollar club last week, including Wicked ($1.9 million), The Lion King ($1.8 million), The Book of Mormon ($1.6 million, a new house record), Evita ($1.57 million), Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark ($1.51 million), and Nice Work If You Can Get It ($1 million).
With more tourists arriving in New York City for the Memorial Day weekend, perennial hits like Mary Poppins (up 12 percent, to $878,715) and The Phantom of the Opera (up 6 percent to $991,815) both saw big jumps over the previous week. Among new shows, the biggest gainers were two Disney-backed shows: Peter and the Starcatcher (up 11 percent, to $463,652) and Newsies (up 4 percent, to $976,387).
Of course, some of Broadway’s current crop falls into the Loman-esque category of “liked, but not well liked.” Three shows last week earned less than 30 percent of their potential gross: Don’t Dress for Dinner, a comedy revival playing at the nonprofit Roundabout ($172,657, playing to houses just 69 percent full); Godspell, a musical revival that’s struggled day by day since opening last fall ($218,077, playing to houses just 56 percent full); and The Lyons, a new comedy that hasn’t caught fire at the box office despite raves for Linda Lavin’s Tony-nominated performance ($222,985, playing to houses 44 percent full).