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That’s Gross: The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Goes Out on a High

You have to kind of hand it to The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Going into last season, the show — which closed Sunday, September 23, 2012 after a total of 293 performances and 28 previews — was pretty much an underdog. It’s one thing when Michael Riedel is crucifying you in The New York Post, but when Stephen Sondheim is writing an open-letter to The New York Times lambasting you? Gurl. That’s when you gotta worry. Still, despite the negative press during previews and lukewarm opening night reviews, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess held onto a steady box office throughout its 10-month run. Plus, it fucked just about everyone’s Tony pools when it it won the goddamn Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, which is no joking matter in these parts.

Why, Porgy even grossed more money during its closing week than it did during its opening week – a feat most shows can’t claim. Closing week (w/e 9/23/12)? A total gross of $891,566 at 86.9% capacity. Opening week (w/e 1/15/2012)? A total gross of $853,017 at 90.3% capacity. Sure, Porgy was down just over 3% in capacity, but that’s not such a bad thing when you consider that it also means their average ticket price increased over the course of the run. In January tickets were averaging $87.54. Closing week they averaged $96.06.  Just to put that in perspective for you, War Horse had an average ticket price of $115 around its opening. Now, it’s stuck at an average ticket cost of $75.83. Not many shows manage a ticket cost increase toward the end of a run. The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess did just that.

Of course, every week wasn’t an up week – and like every show on Broadway not named The Book of Mormon, Wicked, or The Lion KingPorgy certainly had its down weeks. In fact, for the majority of its run Porgy was pulling in a capacity in the 53-63% range. (Its lowest week ever? The week ending 4/01/12, when it brought in 48.3% capacity). But interestingly enough, the average ticket price slightly increased each week. And, while it never grabbed full capacity of the Richard Rodgers, Porgy’s box office performance was still enough to grant the show two extensions.

Ultimately, we think The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess‘ survival — nay, success — in a tumultuous season is an applause worthy feat.  Now, quick, someone find a new musical for Audra and Norm, stat!


Grosses are provided courtesy of The Broadway League. Click here to read this week’s complete list of grosses.

More from NineDaves and LovelyLinda can be found on their respective blogs.

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