Broadway rebounds with ‘best week on record’

Shows trumpeted records across the industry last week.

“Chicago” had the highest-grossing week in its 26-year history, as well as the highest gross individual performance. The once-ailing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which rekindled its fortunes after closing by condensing two parts into one, was already the highest-grossing play in Broadway history, setting a record last week (almost 2.7 million US dollars). for weekly gross through a game. And a starry revival of “The Piano Lesson” became the highest-grossing play by August Wilson—the much-celebrated and much-performed bard of 20th-century African-American life—in Broadway history.

Several shows are setting house records in the theaters where they are staged, including the revival of Funny Girl, which was financially struggling until its producers hired Lea Michele to star. Also breaking records were shows like “Beetlejuice,” which ends on January 8 after a bumpy ride; “Six”, a pop concert-style reinterpretation of Henry VIII’s wives; & Juliet, a new musical imagining an alternate history for Shakespeare’s famous hapless mistress; and MJ, the Michael Jackson biomusical.

“We’ve had our best week ever,” said Victoria Bailey, the chief executive of TDF, a nonprofit that runs the TKTS concession ticket booths, who said her staff is noticing an increasing geographic diversity among ticket buyers.

“We saw people from many, many states and many, many countries — it wasn’t the same people that made the numbers bigger, but it was people from further afield,” Bailey said. “I have no reason to say we’re over the hill, but I don’t think this was just an isolated incident. And if we get to a point where you’re having good weeks on a regular basis, that’ll help.”

Bailey and St. Martin both noted that tourists from China have yet to return in significant numbers as that nation battles rising coronavirus cases. But both said they were particularly encouraged by the return of domestic tourism.

Broadway is now entering a more challenging time: January and February have historically been weak months for the industry. There are 12 shows scheduled to close this month, which is at the high end of the normal range for January closures. But a number of openings are slated for March and April – it looks like the total number of new shows this season will be in the typical range – and St Martin said she feels good about how the industry is evolving.

“I’m overwhelmingly optimistic about spring,” she said.


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