“Leopoldstadt” and “Kimberly Akimbo,” the two shows that took home top Tony Awards last week, saw big bumps at the box office in the days following that ceremony.
The increases for the award-winning shows, which far outpaced a slight rise in the box office overall, seemed to support the industry’s argument to Hollywood’s striking screenwriters that a Tony Awards telecast can play an important role in sustaining struggling shows. “Kimberly Akimbo,” in particular, needed the boost; despite strong reviews, it had been soft at the box office.
“Leopoldstadt,” a heart-wrenching drama by Tom Stoppard about the effect of the Holocaust on a Jewish family in Vienna, had the biggest assist: The show won the Tony Award for best new play on June 11, and its grosses for the week that ended June 18 were up 42 percent over the prior week. The grosses were most likely boosted by the fast-approaching end of the show’s run on July 2.
“Kimberly Akimbo,” a quirky show about a high school student with a life-threatening genetic condition and a comically dysfunctional home life, got a 32 percent boost at the box office after winning the prize for best new musical. The show, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori, played to full houses through the week, which had not been the case previously.
“After this won, I’m like, ‘I want to see this before I leave, just because it won a Tony,’” said Brad Steinmeyer, 30, who was visiting from Colorado and bought tickets to see the Tony Award winning-actors in “Kimberly Akimbo” on Saturday.
Rhys Williams, 27, a theater actor from New York City, also said that watching the Tony Awards cemented his decision to buy a ticket for the show.
“It made it something I didn’t want to miss,” he said.
Overall, Broadway grosses were up 6 percent last week, reflecting some combination of recovery from the effects of the previous week’s wildfire smoke, the slow build of the summer tourism season, and heightened awareness of Broadway shows because of the awards ceremony and attendant media coverage.
The other Tony-nominated musicals also saw improvement after their performances on the telecast, including “Shucked,” a corn-themed country-music show, which was up 23 percent; “& Juliet,” a revisionist take on “Romeo and Juliet” set to pop hits, which was up 18 percent; “New York, New York,” about two musicians making their way in the post-World War II city, which was up 17 percent; and “Some Like It Hot,” which was up 10 percent.
“Parade,” which won the Tony Award for best musical revival, was also up 10 percent. The show is about the lynching of a Jewish businessman in Georgia in the early 20th century.
Among plays, “Prima Facie” was up 17 percent after its lead actress, Jodie Comer, won a Tony; on Tuesday, the producers announced that the play had achieved the rare feat of recouping its capitalization cost, which was $4.1 million and means it will now begin generating profits in the days before it closes on July 2. But “Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” a madcap comedy that had no presence on the Tony Awards, was up even more — 22 percent — serving as a reminder of the capriciousness of grosses.
Simply performing on the Tony Awards did not pay off for “A Beautiful Noise,” the Neil Diamond musical, which was not nominated for any prizes, and suffered an 11 percent box office drop after its cast performed a singalong version of “Sweet Caroline” on the telecast.
Meanwhile, “Life of Pi,” adapted from the best-selling novel that had also been developed into a film, announced Tuesday that it would end its run on July 23. The play arrived from London after winning the Olivier Award there for best new play, and it received generally positive reviews upon opening on March 30 in New York, but never caught on with audiences. It picked up three Tony Awards for design, but was not nominated in the best play category; a North American tour is planned.