Awards Aren’t Everything

It has been a week since the Tony Awards, Broadway’s biggest advertising campaign. This event is thought of as the be-all-and-end-all of Broadway ticket sales. Get your show on the national stage, achieve validation and critical acclaim from receiving an award and then rake in the money. Is this the case? You, along with some producers, might be a bit surprised . . .

Color Purple

It was no surprise that the record-breaking Hamilton took home the most coveted award for Best Musical. A show which really did not need any help in the box office department having sold out pretty much every performance since it opened off-Broadway last year. But let’s take a look at some of the other winners.

Winner of Best Revival of a Play was A View from the Bridge, which unfortunately has to be discounted as the production closed in February. But the winners of the other two major awards were The Colour Purple (Best Revival of a Musical) and The Humans (Best Play).

Last week’s grosses have just come out and the results are a mixed bag for these two winners. The Humans, which is almost playing to capacity houses saw a negligible attendance increase but a significant increase in box office receipts (+$80K). This means that while more people weren’t really attracted to the production (not that they had many seats left), each of these people were willing to pay more for their seats. That’s a good sign for the award-winning play.

The Colour Purple, Best Revival winner, is a different story all together. Its attendance dropped dramatically (-10.5%) alongside its earnings which also decreased from last week by $111,815. This is certainly not a good sign for the Best Revival of a Musical-winning play, although there were other factors. The two leads, Tony Award-winning Cynthia Erivo and co-star Danielle Brooks, took significant time off on holidays this week. And if this was the cause of the drop in box office profits, then that says that winning this Tony Award didn’t make this show any more popular with the uninitiated theatre audience – tourists, which make up the bulk of attendees. That is a concern!

But what about the other shows? Shows which were overlooked by the awards committee but still received the opportunity to highlight their show on national television. Did this enormous 4-minute advertisement work for them? Let’s look at that next time.