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Hanks, Midler, ‘Matilda’ See Sales Jump at Tony Time

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April 23 (Bloomberg) -- With Broadway shows opening nightly ahead of the April 25 deadline for Tony Award eligibility, the musicals “Matilda” and “Kinky Boots” and plays starring Tom Hanks and Bette Midler had their best weeks yet.

“Lucky Guy,” with Hanks playing newspaper columnist Mike McAlary, grossed $1.4 million for the seven days ending April 21, about $12,000 above the previous week. Playing to standing-room-only capacity and with tickets averaging $147, it’s taken in above $1 million every full week since previews began on March 1, according to figures released by the trade association the Broadway League.

“Matilda,” also playing to capacity after opening on April 11 to mostly rave reviews, grossed $1.1 million. “Kinky Boots,” the new musical with songs by Cyndi Lauper, had its second week above $1 million, with the Al Hirschfeld Theater filled to 97 percent of capacity.

Overall, the Broadway box office was up 7 percent over the previous week, taking in $24.7 million. Total sales this season, which ends in five weeks, are up 0.6 percent from 2011-12. Attendance is down 5 percent, while average ticket prices are up.

Nasty Reviews

Frank Wildhorn’s musical “Jekyll & Hyde” dipped 12 percent to $399,000, hurt by the hundreds of complimentary tickets distributed in connection with the April 18 opening and the nasty reviews that followed.

“The Nance,” starring Nathan Lane as the title character, a burlesque performer in 1937 New York, rose 12 percent to $362,000. That’s less than half of its potential. The figure is dampened by Lincoln Center Theater members paying discounted prices.

In print ads for the show, Lane appears in a geisha-like robe applying his own makeup. A nance is show-biz slang for the character of a flamboyant, effeminate homosexual, usually played by a straight man. In Douglas Carter Beane’s play, Lane’s nance is gay and won’t stay in the closet; he suffers the consequences.

Even without singing a note, Midler has proved a sellout as agent Sue Mengers in “I’ll Eat You Last.” Sales were up 22 percent in her second full week, to $686,000 over seven previews. That’s a record for the 777-seat Booth Theatre, according to a production spokesman. It opens on Wednesday.

“The Trip to Bountiful,” Horton Foote’s 1953 drama that opens tonight starring Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr., sold $438,000, up 9 percent, although the Stephen Sondheim Theatre remains more than half empty.

“Motown” grossed $1.2 million, and the hit-filled jukebox musical has yet to show its full selling power. After opening on April 14, it continued giving away tickets to the press last week.

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on Broadway and Patrick Cole on philanthropy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.