The American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League presented their annual Tony Awards last night, June 13, and star-driven productions seemed to be the hot ticket of the evening.
Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, headlining August Wilson’s “Fences”, each won accolades, taking, respectively, Best Performance by Leading Actress and Actor in a Play. “Fences” also won the award for Best Revival of a Play. The production consistently brings in impressive box office receipts, having recouped its $3.8 million cost in just two months, and it is estimated to make $4.5 million in profit by the end of its run on July 11. Last week, the play filled the Cort Theater to 101.7 percent of capacity and brought in over $1 million.
A revival of “La Cage Aux Folles” starring Kelsey Grammer earned the award for Best Revival of a Musical. Grammer’s co-star, Douglas Hodge, won for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, and Terry Johnson won for Best Direction. The musical seems to be performing in the mid-range of its peers on the Great White Way, bringing in $564,666 last week and filling 74.5 percent of the Longacre Theatre.
Ticket broker Jason Berger, managing director of New York-based All Shows, hasn’t yet seen any particular increase in sales for the winners yet, and doesn’t expect to at this time. “It’s hard to reflect any increase in sales based on the Tony Award winners last night. Historically we see more activity in the few weeks past the awards.”
The play “Red” took home the most awards of the evening. The production, which stars Alfred Molina, was awarded Best Play this season, and Molina’s co-star Eddie Redmayne won for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play. Michael Grandage won for Best Direction, and the show also took home awards for Best Scenic, Lighting, and Sound Designs. “Red” is filling 84 percent of capacity at the John Golden Theatre and last week took in $453,660 in receipts.
Some of the top drawing film stars performing on Broadway revivals this year were rewarded, although their productions were not equally recognized. Catherine Zeta-Jones won the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music,” while Scarlett Johansson won Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.”
Zeta-Jones, appearing with the venerable Angela Lansbury, a favorite of audiences and critics alike, have brought in the fans this season to make a hit once again out of Sondheim’s opus. Last week’s receipts for the show totaled $778,263, filling 91 percent of capacity at the Walter Kerr Theatre. A return on the original $5.5 million spent on the production should be complete in the coming weeks.
In “A View from the Bridge,” which ended its limited run at the Cort on April 4, Johansson starred opposite fellow Tony nominee (for Best Performance by a Leading Actor) Liev Schreiber. Johansson’s surprisingly good performance boosted the show’s box office receipts, garnering roughly $3 million in profit.
In Berger’s experience, at this time of year ticket buyers are less likely to buy tickets on the spur of the moment and instead tend to plan their theater trips weeks in advance. Based on this trend, Berger doesn’t anticipate any notable changes in demand spurred by the Awards for a few more weeks.
As for the biggest draw throughout the season, Berger says it has to be “Fences,” while other shows increasing their sales this season have been “Memphis,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” and “Promises, Promises”.
Leor Zahavi, founder and CEO of Admit One concurs with Berger, explaining that time will tell regarding any Tony bounce. “’Fences’ remains a strong draw, but I think it’s too early to say how the awards might affect both demand and pricing on any of the other shows.”