Broadway had a healthy runup to Sunday’s Tony Awards, as the total box office hit $28.3 million, an increase of $445,000 over the week before. Disney’s Aladdin took in $1.28 million (and a Tony for Genie James Monroe Iglehart), its best week to date, and heads into the summer tourist season with a hefty $18 million advance, according to sources. Producer David Binder also had a great week: Not only did his hit Hedwig And The Angry Inch bring home four Tonys including best musical revival and best lead actor in a musical for Neil Patrick Harris, but his revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men, fueled by stars James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton, recouped its $3.8 million capitalizations with seven weeks to go on its limited run.
Despite the hundreds of freebies dispensed last week to out-of-town Tony voters, the Broadway box office rebounded a bit from the previous stand. Total take for 36 shows in the penultimate week of the season was $30,013,854, versus $28,750,477 in week 50, according to figures released by trade group the Broadway League. All The Way, with Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Baines Johnson, improved $217,564 while still managing to achieve just 55% of its gross potential. Disney’s The Lion King was up $202,906 over the week before and was pretty much SRO. The Bridges Of Madison County gained $197,805, a bump attributable to its closing notice.
The Jason Robert Brown/Marsha Norman tuner starring Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara shuttered Sunday after an unexpectedly brief run. If/Then’s Tony nominee Idina Menzel missed four performances, as that show’s take fell to a still-respectable $812, 712, down $189,090 from the previous week. Neil Patrick Harris continued to pack the Belasco for Hedwig And The Angry Inch, grossing 118% of potential at $983,206 and playing to 102% of capacity with one of the Street’s highest average ticket prices at $136.29. Per usual, the costliest ducats were for The Book of Mormon, an average of $191.19, and Denzel Washington …
I TOLDJA, didn’t I? that Broadway’s silly season would start as soon as the Tony nominations were announced, and here we are with today’s New York Times report that “producers” of shows nominated for best new and revived plays and musicals are in jeopardy of losing their right to drop $2,500 for a Tony medallion if their show wins. Primo Tony baloney, this is. Why? Because this has nothing to do with $2,500 baubles and everything to do with the fine romantic nuttiness that is the Tony Awards business. And business it is, with sales of Tonys adding $300,000 to the bottom line of the dysfunctional coalition that runs the awards (about which more later).
Start with the evolving concept of “producers.” There are 16 shows nominated in the top categories: Five for Best Play, four for Best Musical, four for Best Play Revival and three for Best Musical Revival. How many entities produced these 16 shows? 20, 50, 100, you say? How about 193? More, if you consider the fact that many of those entities are actually investor consortiums. These are people who know the meaning of the word agate and want no part of a below-the-title listing for their $50,000 stake. They want to say, to their friends and to the press, “I produced After Midnight!” (21 “producers”), and the actual producers accommodate because money talks and everyone walks to the podium on June 8, Tony Night, hosted by Hugh Jackman and telecast on CBS beginning at 8 PM, in case you didn’t know.
Topping the list: A Gentleman’s Guide To Love & Murder, 28 “producers,” and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, 25. Carrying on the honored-in-the-breach tradition of one show/one producer: Cameron Mackintosh, the sole name above the title in the nominated revival of Les Miserables. Similarly, Tom Schumacher for Disney Theatrical Productions’ adaptation of Aladdin. And Manhattan Theatre Club’s joined-at-the-hip Lynne Meadow and Barry Grove, the sole producers of Best Play nominee Outside Mullingar.