Without Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!” Self-Combusts
In the week ending, November 5, 2017, Donna Murphy once again stepped in for Bette Midler for an entire week of vacation. While Murphy earned rave reviews for her performance as Dolly Gallagher Levi, and has been playing the show every Tuesday night since June 13, 2017, on the occasions when she steps in for a longer engagement, the box office takes an almost comedically downward turn. The last time this happened, the week ending September 10, 2017, the showbrought in a weekly gross of $913,712, which represents 60.4% of its gross potential, and which was a decrease of $1,359,528 from the week before. This time, the week ending November 5, 2017, the downward turn was even worse: the show brought in a weekly gross of $879,369, which represents 58.1% of the show’s gross potential, and which was a decrease of $1,482,982 from the week before. With a top ticket price of $297.00, the average paid admission was $94.43, and the audience was filled up to 80.5%, down from last week’s audience density of 99.1%. This volatile box office fluctuation on the occasions when Bette Midler steps away will soon come to an end, as Midler will play her final performance on January 14, 2018. Donna Murphy’s final performance will therefore be on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. Starting January 20, 2018, Bernadette Peters will begin her run as Dolly Levi, and unlike Midler, she will play the role 8 times a week. Meanwhile, Victor Garber will also take over from David Hyde Pierce on that day, and both are presently scheduled for an open-ended run.
On the other side of the charts, Meteor Shower began previews this past week on November 1, 2017, playing five performances in its first week. Across those five performances, the gross was $631,056, which represents 105.0% of gross potential. With a top ticket price of $323, the average paid admission was $162.27, and the audience was filled up to 100.5% of capacity. Starring Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, Laura Benanti, and Jeremy Shamos, this new play by Steve Martin and directed by Jerry Zaks is candy for comedy and Broadway fans alike. Once the show opens on November 29, 2017, time will tell whether the momentum continues after the reviews come out. Still, the show has already ratcheted up an advance of over $7.5 million before it even began previews, so it will be difficult to stumble too far, even if the reviews are mediocre.
“Waitress” Thrives with Jason Mraz
Since Waitress began previews on March 25, 2016, it has been doing very well at the box office. Periodically, its numbers have surged even more due to the presence of a star. For instance, when the musical’s composer Sara Bareilles stepped in for the lead role of Jenna from March 31, 2017 to June 11, 2017, the numbers rose to new heights. Recently, on November 3, 2017, a new star stepped in. Jason Mraz, the two-time Grammy Award winning singer songwriter, began his run as Dr. Pomatter, the gynecologist on whom the protagonist, now played by Betsy Wolfe, develops a crush. This past week, once Mraz had joined the show, Waitress experienced a surge of growth, bringing in a weekly gross of $900,167, which is an increase of $172,772 from the week before. With a top ticket price of $270, the average paid admission was $118.51, and the audience was filled up to 90.9% of capacity. In bringing in 88.3% of its gross potential, Waitress is well on its way to continuing its longevity, for at least as long as the producers keep bringing in new stars to excite fans.
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