The Boss made his Broadway debut this week – and shattered multiple industry records in the process.
With just five performances of his concert show Springsteen On Broadway, he grossed a staggering $2.33 million, behind only Hamilton and Hello, Dolly! – which were playing full 8-performance schedules. It’s the most any show has grossed at the Walter Kerr theater, and a great feather in the cap for Jujamcyn, which owns the venue.
The average ticket for Springsteen’s debut went for $497. To put that in perspective, the average seat for Hamilton has never cost more than $310. It’s the highest in Broadway history. (To be fair, this was over a holiday weekend, but even so the margin is breathtaking).
Springsteen is only the latest musician to make a splash on the Rialto as producers warm to the broader appeal of a global fanbase. Sara Bareilles led her show Waitress to record gains when she took the stage earlier this spring, and Kinky Boots had its best grosses since 2014 when it cast Panic! At The Disco singer Brendon Urie over the summer. Fans are already used to the idea of shelling out for concert tickets – buying a Broadway seat isn’t much different (and in some cases, cheaper than catching them on tour).
True to form, Bette Midler was not to be outdone. She led Hello, Dolly! to its fifth house record at the Shubert Theater, with $2.34m. Expect that bar to be raised ever higher as the year goes on – premium tickets for Midler’s final weeks are on sale for just under $1,000.
Overall it was an excellent week for the biz. Columbus Day is a reliably lucrative frame, and sales jumped 30% from the week prior, to a total of $30.23 million (another October record). Almost every show reaped the holiday harvest, from predictable family fare (The Lion King and Wicked were both up $400k), to 1984, which closed on a high note at $490k.
This week also marked a smaller but no less exciting milestone: British comedy The Play That Goes Wrong is now officially the longest-running play on Broadway.
Though overlooked by most awards (winning a Tony only for its spectacular self-destructing set), The Play has outlasted every former competitor, including lauded heavyweights like A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Indecent.
The show recently replaced its entire original cast with new faces, and due to the low operating costs, continues to break even most weeks. Having super-producers Kevin McCollum (Rent, Avenue Q) and JJ Abrams (Star Wars, Star Trek) calling the shots doesn’t hurt either.