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Broadway Box Office: Bette Midler, Sara Bareilles Break Records; ‘Charlie’ Starts Strong

Variety logo Variety 4/3/2017 Gordon Cox
© Provided by Variety

“Hello, Dolly!” — but goodbye, house records. The ultra-hot revival led by Bette Midler broke the record for biggest week in the Shubert Theater with just seven performances, while a couple of blocks away, Sara Bareilles, making her Broadway debut, broke a house record in her first weekend of “Waitress.” Also making a Broadway bow, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” posted tasty numbers in its first stretch of previews.

Given the boffo receipts “Hello, Dolly!” ($1,965,673 for seven) has been logging since the beginning, it’s no surprise that the production can break records — but in this case, it’s doing so well that, with just seven previews, it broke the previous record set at the Shubert during a nine-performance week. The show also muscled up to the No. 3 spot in the Top 10, landing after “Hamilton” ($2,814,628) and “The Lion King” ($2,007,559).

Over at “Waitress” ($1,025,366), Bareilles didn’t start until Friday evening, but raked in $180,026 for the evening performance of April 1 — a house record for a single show. Meanwhile, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” ($993,783 for six previews) showed off the power of its well-known title, reporting the kind of tally that makes the future look sweet, provided those kinds of numbers hold.

Last week “Anastasia” ($971,783 for seven) proved to be another new musical showing early strength, building on the momentum it established the prior frame. The new money it brought in to the Broadway pot came in alongside coin generated by a trio of shows that also started previews last week: “Bandstand” ($170,905 for two), jockeying for attention in a crowded season of new musicals; “The Little Foxes” ($259,953 for six), starring Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon at nonprofit MTC; and “A Doll’s House, Part 2” ($85,982 for five), starting out about as modestly as you might expect for a brand-new play with an unfamiliar title.

In a week bolstered by a flood of springtime city visitors, 14 productions earned more than $1 million apiece, including new musicals “Dear Evan Hansen” ($1,210,831) and “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” ($1,067,471) and new revivals like “Sunday in the Park With George” ($1,214,610) and “Sunset Boulevard” ($1,206,660).

Among plays, “Present Laughter” ($620,361) remained the top earner, with “The Play That Goes Wrong” ($288,593) ticking down in a week that accommodated press comps and opening night; sales seem likely to bounce back up, given the largely positive reviews earned by the knockabout farce. “The Price” ($636,683), starring Mark Ruffalo, and “Oslo” ($571,353), moving to Broadway after a well-received Off Broadway run, both did relatively well for non-profit productions, while “Sweat” ($312,873) had its best week yet.

Cumulative Broadway sales lifted by a nice $2 million to $34.4 million for 38 shows on the boards, with attendance rising by more than 20,000 to 311,207 (or 89% of the overall capacity).

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