Broadway Fall Season Underway With New Shows; $29M Box Office Stuck In Summer


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Broadway’s fall season kicked into gear last week, with no fewer than eight new shows in previews, including three that just began performances. Overall box office, alas, was pretty much stuck in the summer doldrums, with total receipts of $29,320,908 up a measly 1% over the previous week – and that’s with three additional shows running.

Total attendance of 254,824 was up by a barely-worth-noting .4%.

Keep in mind, a hefty percentage of the newcomers were at subscription-heavy (so discount priced) non-profit theaters, keeping receipts low. Also, none of these shows had been reviewed – so raves, pans or anything in between hadn’t yet gotten the word out. That said, only one show attracted some big-spending ticket buyers. More about that Lin-Manuel Miranda-related exception below.

In order of opening nights, the newcomers are:

  • The Height of the Storm, opening tomorrow at the Samuel J. Friedman, the Manhattan Theater Club presentation of the smash West End production starring Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins took in $299,624, only 41% of potential. Of course, that includes comped press seats and the lower priced tickets of the subscription, non-profit MTC. Attendance was at 89% of capacity. Should do fine, certainly for MTC’s rep for high-quality fare;
  • The Great Society, part 2 of Robert Schenkkan’s LBJ epic following the acclaimed All The Way. Another non-prof presentation (at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater), the Brian Cox-starrer actually slipped a bit from the previous week, taking $404,001, just 34% of its $1.2 million potential. Again, subscriber heavy. Attendance was at 65% of capacity, with an average ticket price of $74, nowhere near – yet – the $169 top price. Opening night is Oct. 1;
  • Freestyle Love Supreme, at the Booth Theatre. Yeah, this is the trend-bucker. Created in 2004 by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale and playing a sold-out Off Broadway run last year, this blend of hip-hop, improv comedy and vocal stylings grossed $701,509, about 75% of its potential. With a very solid average ticket price of $134, the show – classified as a “special,” neither musical nor play – filled 86% of seats. Opening night is Oct. 2;
  • Slave Play, Jeremy O. Harris’ much-buzzed about satirical Off Broadway transfer that uses images of American slavery stereotypes as sexual fantasy, was at 98% of capacity at the Golden, but, with a gross of $396,469, took only 48% of box office potential. Some explaining: One of the eight previews was a heavily comped performance for black identifying artists, influencers, writers and media, with the remainder of tickets for that performance sold at steep discount to black organizations, sororities and fraternities. Billed as a special “Black Out” performance to reach a diverse audience, the freebies leave open the question of whether Broadway is, as The New York Times recently put it, ready for Slave Play. Opening night is Oct. 6;
  • Linda Vista, the Steppenwolf production of Tracy Letts’ new play at non-prof Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theatre, played six previews to $127,393, 29% of potential at the subscription-heavy house, with discount-ticketed subscribers helping fill up 82% of seats. Opening night is Oct. 10;
  • The Rose Tattoo, starring Marisa Tomei, began previews at non-prof Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre, grossing $160,063 for just three performances. Houses were 98% full. Opens Oct. 15;
  • The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical played its first five previews at the Longacre Theatre, grossing $175,767, about 32% of its potential, with attendance at 68% of capacity. Based on the novel by Rick Riordan and featuring a book by Be More Chill‘s Joe Tracz and an original rock score by Rob Rokicki, the musical has an opening night of Oct. 16;
  • The Sound Inside, starring Mary-Louise Parker, also a Lincoln Center presentation, continued previews at Studio 54, filling 71% of seats, with mid-level average ticket price of $73 keeping receipts to $412,733. Opens Oct. 17.

Season to date, Broadway has grossed $549,726,698, down about 9% year to year. Total attendance to date is 4,558,282, off about 3% from last season at this time.

All figures courtesy of the trade group Broadway League.

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