Bernadette Peters In ‘Hello, Dolly!’: Not Bad, But Not Bette
Lee Seymour , CONTRIBUTOR
Jan 30, 2018
Bette Midler, aka The Queen of Broadway, has vacated her throne, having concluded her run in the smash Hello, Dolly!. But her successor Bernadette Peters isn’t having the easiest time settling in – at least at the box office.
Midler was commanding about $2.3 million a week in sales. With her out, the numbers took a relative nosedive: Peters’s first at-bat brought in $1.17 million.
Make no mistake: that is still very respectable business. Taking 80% of its gross potential, Dolly now falls squarely in the middle of the Broadway box office pack. It’s not as hot a ticket as The Band’s Visit ($122 a pop, on average), but it’s on par with Anastasia ($103) and far more in-demand than SpongeBob SquarePants ($75).
But Peters had a Sisyphean task ahead of her from the start. With Midler in the lead, the musical broke record after record at the box office and racked up awards, including Tonys for Best Revival and Best Actress. It was an unprecedented run, and commanded some of the highest ticket prices in Broadway history. A comedown was inevitable.
Audience reports so far are positive, with fans flocking to the new leading lady and her cast, which also includes new add Victor Garber. Tony winner Gavin Creel is still in, along with Tony nominee Kate Baldwin. Last week they played to standing-room-only houses.
And the musical’s financiers have been sated, too. Though it’s unclear whether the show will announce an official recoupment, multiple investors and co-producers say they’ve been paid back in full. From here on out, everything over the weekly nut is pure profit.
Elsewhere on the strip, box office drama was minimal. Overall sales stayed essentially even, dipping just .5% from the prior week, for a total haul of $27.52 million.
Mark Rylance’s headlining gig Farinelli And The King is now the highest-grossing play on the street, taking almost $839,000 for 90% of its listed potential. John Lithgow’s solo show Stories By Heart continues to pick up steam, jumping up $51,000 from last week to almost 70% potential.
The top earners remain essentially unchanged: Hamilton ($3.08m), Springsteen On Broadway ($2.41m), The Lion King ($1.79m), Dear Evan Hansen ($1.69m), and Waitress ($1.62m).
Waitress is particularly noteworthy. The show is coming up on its second birthday, and is performing better than almost any show that age or older (Hamilton being that one overachieving sibling). With Sara Bareilles extending her stint in the lead role, expect the grosses to stay high through at least March.
Lee is an actor, writer, producer, and investor. Follow him @LeemourSeymour or visit www.lee-seymour.com to learn more.