Baldwin Flaccid on Broadway, Love Goes to Midler, Hanks

The Virgin Mary, Snow White, Jack Donaghy and a sober Texan all had a tough go of it on Broadway last week, as plays and even some musicals struggled in the final days before the deadline for Tony Awards nominations.

The annual rash of spring openings, as producers jammed the schedule, ended April 25. The Tony nominees, in what promises to be the most hotly contested awards season in years, will be announced Tuesday morning.

An audience-pleasing, circus-themed revival of “Pippin” opened to mixed-to-positive notices. But the musical still filled every seat at the Music Box Theatre, selling $717,712 worth of tickets at an average price of $89.70.

“Motown: The Musical,” another newcomer that had some critics tied up in knots, continues to wow audiences, selling $1,213,611 worth of tickets and filling the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to capacity.

Both “Matilda” and “Kinky Boots” -- the likely front runners for Best Musical nominations, played to full houses.

All figures were provided by the Broadway League, the trade group for Broadway theater owners and producers.

‘Mormon’ Rules

But the musical to beat, if measured by scarcity and customer willingness to spend top dollar, remained “The Book of Mormon,” averaging $191.45 per ticket and totaling $1,675,558 in sales. In larger theaters, “Wicked” ($123.20 per ticket) and “The Lion King” ($137.46 per ticket) took in $1,735,066 and $1,864,611, respectively.

With a few notable exceptions, non-musicals went looking for audiences.

Tom Hanks’s extended run as journalist Mike McAlary in “Lucky Guy” continues to sell out the Broadhurst Theater, with tickets going for an average of $146.35 and a box office total of $1,384,178. That’s 22 percent more than its potential because of premium pricing.

Bette Midler, whose solo show about pot-loving Hollywood agent and gossipeuse Sue Mengers, “I’ll Eat You Last,” opened to a number of oddly rave reviews and was Standing Room Only, with tickets averaging $116.06.

Extraordinary reviews for Fiona Shaw as the Virgin Mary in the solo show “The Testament of Mary” and Cicely Tyson, returning to Broadway after a 30-year absence, in a revival of “The Trip to Bountiful” couldn’t convince theatergoers to see serious plays. The shows played to quarter- and -half-filled houses respectively.

Snow White

Alec Baldwin wasn’t proving much of a draw at the critically bashed “Orphans” and Sigourney Weaver, who vamps as Snow White in the much praised “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike,” also straggled at the box office.

So did “Ann,” Holland Taylor’s solo gig as former Texas Governor Ann Richards, which played to less than half-filled houses at the Vivian Beaumont. Alan Cumming’s crazy one-man “Macbeth” played to respectable houses about 80 percent full.

Total box office sales were $24,586,124, with attendance down nearly 16 percent over the same week one year ago. Overall attendance for the season to date was 10.6 million people, down 5.3 percent from a year ago.

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