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That’s Gross! Broadway by the Numbers

By, NineDaves & Lovely Linda

Oh hey, this week’s Broadway grosses are out! Are you asleep yet?

This weekly financial picture of Broadway is amazing in its breadth and detail, but we start to nod off before the whole chart even loads on our screens. (Liberal Arts majors, unite.) But here’s the deal: The Broadway grosses are effing important. They tell a dramatic, passionate story about this thing we all love: Broadway. If you know where to look.

That’s where we come in. In this column each week, we’re going to find the most important tidbit hidden in those numbers, and we’re going to tell it to you. So you won’t have to sift through that crazy chart.

Watch the numbers, and you can learn:

  • Which shows you can see for cheap this week
  • Which shows you’ll never see again in your lifetime because you can’t get a ticket (Right at you, Book of Mormon…)
  • Which shows just got – or could use – a new star
  • Which shows are closing and when
  • Which new shows will be around forever

This week, we’re going to take a look at a show that’s been open for a while: Sister Act. Its financial struggles and lukewarm box office numbers were even recently chronicled in an article in The New York Times.

When you look back at the numbers, Sister Act was doing pretty well after it opened in April, 2011. It was filling 80% of its seats until the Tony Awards, when it was nominated for Best Musical. But when it lost to The Book of Mormon, those numbers started slipping. It’s never fully recovered, despite some positive reviews and word of mouth.

But Sister Act has a new thing going for it now: That’s So Raven star Raven-Symoné, who began performances as Deloris van Cartier on March 27. So is this fine bit of stunt casting having any financial impact? Or, to put it bluntly: Is Raven savin’ Sister Act?

At first glance, yes. The show’s capacity percentage is up 14.1% from last week — and the gross increased by $152,671. But if you look at the grosses since January, there have been other, similar shifts in capacity percentage and gross, without a major shift in the cast. Take the week ending February 19, for example. The gross increased 16.7%. That’s even more of an increase than Raven brought.

Still, grosses have been steadily increasing since the show announced that Raven would be joining the cast.  That announcement came on March 7, after a tough financial week for Sister Act. That week, they were only filling 48% of their seats. Ouch.

After the announcement, things were looking better: 54.2% capacity and $553,290 gross sales. What could account for this improvement? One theory: Audiences now had a reason to hurry up and see Tony nominee Patina Miller in the role she originated.

For Raven’s first week on the job — the week ending April 1 — there was an even greater increase. The show sold 77.3% of its seats and grossed $760,041. That’s not exactly so Raven, but it’s a solid start. Raven may not be a major A-list star, but we think the show will stay open through her run.

But let’s be honest, we really want to see her in it. The good news on that front? We’re pretty sure getting tickets won’t be a problem.


NineDaves knew he had a problem with theater at age 7 when after seeing his first Broadway show, Les Miserables, he told his parents, “I liked it, but I wish there was more choreography.” He’s been writing about theater steadily since then, for a few years as theater editor for Rhode Island’s Providence Monthly, and more recently on his own site, www.ninedaves.com – where his SMASH Reality Index recaps with Linda have become more entertaining than the show each week. He has a total crush on Raúl Esparza, Norbert Leo Butz, and Brian d’Arcy James. He also may have seen Xanadu more times than he’d like to admit. If you follow him on Twitter, expect way too many tweets about Newsies.

Lovely Linda is very excited to be writing for The Craptacular because she enjoys talking about cute boys in shows. Her current top three theater crushes are Justin Kirk, Michael Esper, and Jeremy Shamos, but this is subject to change by the week. She writes about Broadway on her site, Pataphysical Science, where you can read the SMASH Reality Index she writes with NineDaves, and on her Twitter @PataphysicalSci. She also writes features for TDF Stages and Broadway Direct. Her current favorite topic of conversation is Nick Jonas.

Note: Weekly grosses and other Broadway data are compiled by and are a product of The Broadway League.

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