There were shows that broke records across the industry last week.
“Chicago” had the highest-grossing week in its 26-year history, as well as the highest single-performance gross. The once struggling “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which was given new life after its closure by consolidating from two parts into one, was already the highest-grossing play in Broadway history, setting a record last week (nearly $2 .7 million). for weekly gross by a play. And a brilliant revival of “The Piano Lesson” became the highest-grossing play by August Wilson – the much-celebrated and oft-played bard of 20th-century African-American life – in Broadway history.
Several shows set house records in the theaters where they were performed, including the revival of “Funny Girl,” which was struggling financially until the producers brought in Lea Michele to star. Records were also set with shows including “Beetlejuice,” which closes on January 8 after a bumpy ride; “Six”, the pop concert-style rethinking of Henry VIII’s wives; ‘& Juliet’, a new musical that depicts an alternate history for Shakespeare’s famous star-crossed lover, and ‘MJ’, the Michael Jackson biomusical.
“We had our best week in the past,” said Victoria Bailey, the executive director of TDF, a non-profit organization that runs the TKTS discount counters, who said her staff is noticing increasing geographic diversity among ticket buyers.
“We saw people from a lot of states and a lot of countries — it wasn’t the same people who made the numbers bigger, but it was people from further afield,” Bailey said. “I don’t have any reason to say we’re out of the woods, but I don’t think this was a one-off. And when we get to a point where you have good weeks now and then, that helps.”
Bailey and St. Martin both noted that tourists from China have not yet returned in large numbers as that country battles rising coronavirus cases. But both said they were especially bolstered by returning domestic tourism.
Broadway is now entering a more challenging period: January and February are historically weak months for the industry. There are 12 shows scheduled to close this month, which is on the high side of the normal range for January closures. But there are a series of openings planned for March and April — it looks like the total number of new shows this season will be in the normal range — and St. Martin said she has a good feeling about the industry’s trajectory.
“I’m overwhelmingly optimistic about spring,” she said.