Broadway Grosses Analysis: Are Sondheim Revivals Broadway's Newest Cash Cow? | Playbill

Grosses Broadway Grosses Analysis: Are Sondheim Revivals Broadway's Newest Cash Cow?

Merrily We Roll Along broke the house record at the Hudson in its first week of previews, and Sweeney Todd continues to top the charts.

Graphic by Vi Dang

Broadway is turning to an unlikely place for big bucks these days: Stephen Sondheim musicals. While most of the late Broadway legend's landmark shows failed to turn a profit in their original productions, starry revivals of them have become major money makers. The current revival of Sweeney Todd, led by Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, quickly became a reliable top-five grosser early in its run. Last week, it was the third highest-grossing of all 26 currently running shows with $1.53 million.

And, enter perhaps the most unlikely Sondheim musical to see at the top of the grosses, Merrily We Roll Along, which began its first-ever Broadway revival last week. The 1981 original production famously lasted just 52 previews and 16 performances. Now back on the boards in a revised edition, the show broke the all-time record at the Hudson with $1.3 million, making the musical the sixth highest-grossing show of the week. Looks like things are better the second time around—especially with a starry cast. Much like Sweeney's cast of A-listers, this Merrily is headed by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Tony winner Lindsay Mendez.

Broadway's newest Sondheim production gave just six previews last week, meaning we could very easily soon be looking at a top 5 that includes not just one but two Sondheim musicals. Dare we say Broadway's imprimatur writer has gone mainstream at last?

We can look to ticket prices for that impressive box office performance with both Sweeney and Merrily. The latter topped the chart of average ticket prices last week with a staggering $225.07—to say nothing of the revival's top ticket price of $499. Sweeney Todd is not that far behind, with a $153.03 average and $399 top. And both sold extremely well, with Merrily filling 100% of its seats and Sweeney filling 95%. If this performance is any indication, Broadway fans should definitely be looking forward to more splashy Sondheim revivals led by big name celebs. With Sondheim's final musical poised to make its Off-Broadway world premiere with a cast including David Hyde Pierce, Francois Battiste, Amber Grey, and Bobby Cannavale, we may even see this formula tested on the Main Stem with a new title before too long.

Merrily's performance at the box office helped Broadway cumulatively enjoy a modest 4% increase last week despite a slight decline in attendance. With just under 85% of seats filled, 198,785 people saw a Broadway show last week, with an average ticket price of $112.90, up more than $6 from the week previous. If a healthy Broadway means keeping Sondheim on the boards, you won't see any complaints here.

Take a look at the full report here.

The $1 Million Club (shows that earned $1 million or more at the box office):

(9 of 26 currently running productions)

The 90s Club (shows that played to 90% or higher of their seats filled over the entire week):

(8 of 26 currently running productions)

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