Tony, Schmony. Bette Midler may have been snubbed by Tony nominators for her one-woman comedy I’ll Eat You Last, but she’s having the last laugh at the box office. According to figures from the Broadway League, ticket sales for the Divine Miss M’s first Broadway show in 30 years jumped 17 percent for the week ending May 5, to $753,217. That’s a record for the relatively tiny Booth Theatre and comes despite the fact that Midler performed only seven shows (most Broadway productions schedule eight performances per week). Her producers took advantage of premium pricing and stellar reviews, but the Tony snub also allowed them to deny Tony voters free tickets before the June 9 ceremony and re-sell those prime seats at full price.
So what’s a Tony nomination worth these days? For the musical revival Pippin and the star-studded comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the first week since the Tony noms boosted ticket sales by a healthy 10 percent. Pippin, which earned 10 nods (including Best Musical Revival), took in $785,386 for the week ending May 5 — an impressive 85 percent of the potential gross for the Music Box Theatre. Vanya, which earned 6 Tony noms, including Best Play, generated $449,073 at the Golden Theatre — roughly 60 percent of that 804-seat house’s maximum earnings.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest post-Tony box office spikes came for The Testament of Mary, which closed Sunday after picking up a sole nomination for Best Play. Sales for Fiona Shaw’s one-woman show rose last week by nearly 40 percent to $301,343, but that still represented a mere 37 percent of the maximum gross for the Walter Kerr Theatre.
Several other new productions have already established themselves as hits and therefore saw only modest Tony-fueled box office bumps, if any. The most-nominated newbie, Cyndi Lauper’s musical Kinky Boots, was up 2.5 percent to $1.14 million. Others, such as the Tom Hanks-led drama Lucky Guy ($1.4 million), Motown the Musical ($1.21 million), and the musical Matilda ($1.1 million), continued playing to sold-out crowds and earned roughly the same amounts as the previous week.
Ticket sales for the Alec Baldwin-topped drama revival Orphans, which picked up just two nominations, fell 10 percent, to $397, 646. The show announced Monday it will close on May 19, about a month ahead of schedule. And grosses for Jekyll & Hyde dropped 9 percent last week, to $398,919. The Constantine Maroulis-led musical revival, which was shut out by Tony nominators, is slated to close this Sunday as composer Frank Wildhorn continues his long string of money-losing Broadway flops.
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