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Hanks, Midler Sell Well as ‘Hands on a Hardbody’ Closes

The ensemble of
The ensemble of "Hands on a Hard Body." The new musical closes Saturday night after 28 regular performances. Photographer: Chad Batka/The Hartman Group PR via Bloomberg

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- “Motown: The Musical” and “Lucky Guy” with Tom Hanks made a splash on Broadway last week, as “Hands on a Hardbody” posted its closing notice after poor sales.

A somewhat downbeat musical about people in a small Texas town competing for a Nissan truck, “Hardbody” will close on Saturday, its producers said in a release. Sales dropped 25 percent from the previous week, to $240,000, likely short of operating expenses. It played 28 regular performances.

Reviews ran the gamut, but even the New York Times’ favorable notice called its storyline “static” while referring to the show overall as “daring.” The lead producer, Broadway Across America, operates tours and is the parent of ticket broker

In contrast, “Lucky Guy,” Nora Ephron’s valentine to tabloid journalism and the late columnist Mike McAlary, received mixed reviews and is playing to packed houses. Its $1.2 million last week is an impressive tally for a show that gave away hundreds of tickets on opening night.

Bette Midler, playing superagent Sue Mengers, also sold well, grossing $314,000 in her first three previews. “I’ll Eat You Last” opens April 24.

“Motown,” which opens April 14, sold $1.1 million in previews.

Broadway ticket sales totaled $25.9 million, down 9 percent from the week before, which included the Easter holiday, according to the trade association the Broadway League.

Grosses fell 18 percent for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” based on the Truman Capote novella, to $338,000. It’s playing to about 50 percent capacity.

‘Lion’ Roars

Broadway’s biggest sellers remain the wizards and kings of yesteryear. Even with a 14 percent drop from the previous week, “Wicked” sold $2.3 million. It will have been running for 10 years in October. Walt Disney Co.’s “The Lion King” sold $2.1 million, down 13 percent. It opened in 1997.

“Kinky Boots” fell 13 percent to $776,000. Like “Lucky Guy,” the Cyndi Lauper musical gave away tickets in connection with its opening. It’s based on a 2005 film about an imaginative scheme to save a struggling English shoe factory.

A revival of the 1997 Frank Wildhorn musical “Jekyll & Hyde” had a fast start, selling $341,000 tickets over five previews.

“Pippin,” a revival of the Stephen Schwartz musical directed by Diane Paulus that’s generating positive advance word-of-mouth, sold $661,000. As critics attended previews for the acclaimed English import “Matilda,” it sold $916,000, well above its weekly expenses.

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on music and James S. Russell on architecture.

To contact the reporter on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at

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