Broadway Box Office: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Bows Big

Gordon Cox
Variety

The buzz that musical “Dear Evan Hansen” built up Off Broadway has apparently carried over at the Broadway box office, where the show’s first seven previews rang in an impressive tally and the production played to nearly-full houses.

Starring Ben Platt (“Pitch Perfect”) and written by theater-world faves Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, “Dear Evan Hansen” ($804,291 for seven previews) made an unusually strong showing for a title with no brand recognition and no Hollywood name attached. The show drew crowds that filled houses to an average of 98% of capacity, arriving on Broadway after a headturning Off Broadway run last season that earned raves from critics. Based on its first week at the Music Box Theater, a relatively small house, the show might also have some box-office muscle behind it as well.

“Dear Evan Hansen” debuted in a week that saw overall Broadway sales take a breath in advance of the boom that comes every year during the Thanksgiving week. The musical was one of three productions currently in previews before December openings, with “A Bronx Tale” ($651,268 for seven previews) posting decent numbers and under-the-radar “In Transit” ($238,222) continuing its modest start.

Most individual titles posted declines last week, as city visitors held off ahead of the Turkey Day long weekend that brings them out in droves. The biggest decline of the frame was at “The Color Purple” (down 43% to $396,147), taking a hit from the scheduled vacation of the show’s Tony-winning star Cynthia Erivo. Also down was the Josh Groban-headlined “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” ($888,329), largely attributable to last week’s heavily comped opening night and post-opening press tickets.

Overall Broadway sales slipped $2.1 million to $26.8 million for 32 titles on the slate. Attendance downticked by 16,000 to 252,921, or 82% of the streetwide capacity. Now, though, producers can look forward to the coming feast during what is usually Broadway’s second-favorite of the year, when the big-money sales rung in over the holiday are only overshadowed by the huge boom that comes around Christmas and New Year’s.

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