Even before Christian Borle picked up his Featured Actor Tony for Peter and the Starcatcher Sunday night, the Peter Pan prequel was winning over Broadway audiences. The play had its best week ever, earning $541,177 for the week ending June 10, according to figures from the Broadway League. That’s a healthy 27-percent jump from the previous week – certainly nothing for Borle’s Black Stache to snigger at. (In addition to Borle’s acting prize, the show earned three other Tonys in technical categories.) Overall, Broadway box office was up nearly $1.9 million last week – an impressive achievement considering that the $1 million-grossing drama Death of a Salesman had closed on June 2.
Given the promotional platform of last night’s all-time-lowest-rated Tony telecast, we should expect a box office windfall in coming weeks for the evening’s big victors, particularly eight-fold musical winner Once. (Last week, the movie-based musical played to nearly full houses and grossed $845,343, 85 percent of its potential gross. Look for both ticket prices and profitability to climb quickly.) Musicals like The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Newsies, and Nice Work If You Can Get It boasted both multiple Tony wins and solid production numbers that translated well to the small screen. Even musicals like Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Ghost that came up empty-handed in the Tony derby may see a modest uptick in advance sales thanks to their televised numbers.
Some of the Tony broadcast’s production numbers may have a more cautionary effect. I suspect that virtually no Tony viewers were swayed to buy tickets to the long-flailing revival of Godspell – or to book a Royal Caribbean cruise to see that shaky non-Equity production of Hairspray. Indeed, Godspell posted its worst box office returns ever last week, down 7 percent to $156,437. Prepare ye the way of a closing notice. And last season’s musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which will have its last performance June 24, was down 6 percent to $487,923 – the second worst full week in the production’s 15-month run.
As for straight plays, Tony winners such as Clybourne Park and One Man, Two Guvnors now have fresh promotional fodder to lure audiences. The acting prizes arrive too late to help two long-running new plays, Other Desert Cities and Venus in Fur, which are due to close this Sunday. And without Tonys to tout, some other new non-musical plays may struggle to hang on through the end of summer. The Blair Underwood-led revival of A Streetcar Named Desire was flat compared to the previous week, grossing $299,235, and The Lyons took in a mere $239,983 – in both cases, that was less than 30 percent of their potential gross.