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Stars Power Broadway’s Box Office Rebound

As Broadway approaches its busy spring season, star power has returned to the Great White Way and boosted box office returns.

After her Broadway debut in 2012, Jessica Chastain has returned to star as Nora Helmer in A dollhouse. Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, adapted by Amy Herzog and directed by Jamie Lloyd, began previews at the Hudson Theater on Feb. 13 and has played to nearly full houses to date, grossing a strong $811,261 in its first full week of performances .

The musical Procession, starring Ben Platt, began previews February 21 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater and played at more than 100 percent (including standing room), grossing just over $587,000 in its first four previews. This came as the revival – which tells the true story of a Jewish factory worker who was wrongly accused of murdering a teenage girl and then lynched by a mob – faced protests from members of a neo-Nazi group outside the country during its first preview. theater. .

The musical, which originally premiered on Broadway in 1998 and features a score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Alfred Uhry, returns to the district after a sold-out engagement at off-Broadway’s New York City Center in Fall 2022 A reprise of Stephen van Sondheim Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of Fleet Streetunder the direction of Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, began previews February 26 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater and played to capacity after one performance, grossing $260,691, with an average ticket price of $174 (the third highest of those week, after ghost of the opera And Hamilton).

Ben Platt leads ‘Parade’ on Broadway.

Thanks to Emilio Madrid

The timing of these star-studded returns is not unusual; spring is always the busiest time in the industry. Many shows try to set opening dates close to the Tony Awards eligibility end date at the end of April and then hope to take advantage of tourists coming in the summer, as well as any bumps from Tony wins on June 11. Jodie Comer will also appear on Broadway, starring in Suzie Miller’s one-person play prima face from April at the John Golden Theater. And Sean Hayes will appear as the titular character in Goodnight, Oscara play about pianist Oscar Levant, premiering the same month at the Belasco Theater.

Still, celebrities are a helpful presence on Broadway as the industry appears to be recovering after its 18-month shutdown. Funny girl shows what an impact a star can have on the box office. The musical premiered at the August Wilson Theater in April 2022, starring Beanie Feldstein, but saw grosses drop that summer after Feldstein received less than stellar reviews. Since Lea Michele took over the role in September, the musical has broken the theater box office record several times. Every time she’s off the show, the general public suffers. In the week ending Feb. 26, when Michele and co-star Ramin Karimloo were on vacation, the box office of Funny girl fell nearly $950,000 from the previous week.

Overall, there are strong signs of progress: the total industry gross for the week leading up to Presidents Day was $25.8 million, up this year from 2022 (although 2022 saw four fewer shows and the industry recovered from a sharp rise in the number of omicron cases). And while the number of ongoing shows, and therefore the total gross, is still below $29.9 million that week in 2019 (there were 23 ongoing shows this year compared to 29 in 2019), the box office totals are catching up.

From a long-running show standpoint, the industry is already back, says Mike Rafael, a ticket sales consultant at Bad. “Yes, we would like to see international tourism numbers rise a bit, but domestic tourism is very strong,” said Rafael. (Suburban spectators also still lag pre-pandemic totals, as Rafael argues many don’t commute to work in the city as often.) This is because audience composition has changed, with more young and “culturally curious” audiences who attend Broadway shows, he says. This group is more into theater with special events, such as shows featuring celebrities, big brands, or well-known subjects, such as MJ: The musical. And once there, people are willing to pay a premium for the experience.

But these gains are not easy to achieve. Pre-sale numbers for most shows are still lagging behind what they were pre-pandemic, meaning weekly totals can get to the bone, making the production process nerve-wracking. adds John Johnson, executive producer of the new musical Bad Cinderellaof the lack of ticket presale for some shows: “There’s no urgency for what they’re buying.”

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