As the Omicron variant ripped through the Broadway industry, some productions saw capacities drop into the teens, while others weathered through with strong pricing and less than a handful of performances per week.
Broadway grosses, obtained by Broadway News, still show a Christmas boost for many productions that were able to perform. But close to a dozen shows, including “Hamilton,” “Hadestown” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” canceled performances that week due to COVID-19 cases within the company. The impact of Omicron on grosses and attendance became even more apparent in early January, as productions began to resume normal schedules.
The confidential grosses were shared with Broadway League members and leaked to Broadway News. The Broadway League had shared this type of data with the public in past years, but stopped the practice this season, citing the uneven comparisons to previous years. The new data, which runs from Dec. 19, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022, adds to the previously leaked grosses from the fall, which were reported and analyzed by Broadway News. The League declined to comment for this article.
While the canceled performances meant big brands missed out on the typical holiday windfall, many were able to move into early January relatively unscathed. After several Omicron-related cancellations, “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” “Jagged Little Pill” and “Ain’t Too Proud” closed, suggesting that the variant, combined with the winter downturn, has tipped the scales for other shows.
The first rush of Broadway cancellations related to the Omicron variant began in the week ended Dec. 19. Grosses dropped industrywide, even as some shows held on to a sense of normalcy. “Waitress,” for example, grossed $867,103 and played to a capacity of 85%. The show closed the next week, following several canceled performances and a rise in COVID-19 cases.
During Christmas week, shows that had been posting lower grosses continued in that vein. “Slave Play” grossed $77,152 across seven performances during Christmas Week and played to a capacity of 22%. “Girl From the North Country” played to a capacity of 32% and grossed $197,691 across seven performances.
Meanwhile, stalwarts such as “Chicago” and “The Book of Mormon” reported capacities above 95% and grosses of $825,470 and $1.1 million, respectively, across seven performances. “Moulin Rouge!,” traditionally one of the highest grossing shows, still made close to $1 million across five performances.
The impact of Omicron on grosses and attendance became more apparent in the week ended Jan. 2, when shows such as “Flying Over Sunset” reported a capacity of 26% across eight performances and grossed $123,054 and “Ain’t Too Proud” reported a capacity of 50% across seven performances and grossed $481,651.
“Flying Over Sunset” announced the end of its limited run shortly after. “Ain’t Too Proud” ended its run on Jan. 16, after having canceled several performances in December.
The downward trends continued in the week ended Jan. 9 — traditionally a lower-grossing period — when the industry recorded its lowest overall capacity of the season. “Girl From the North Country” had the lowest capacity of the week, at 19%, and grossed $107,073 across eight performances. The musical closed on Jan. 23, but is in talks to return in the spring.
It also began to affect some big brands, such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” which saw its capacity fall to 54% and grosses fall to $654,120 across eight performances that week. The new, but previously well-attended, “MJ” reported a capacity of 63% and a gross of $603,989 across seven performances. “Wicked” fell to a capacity of 68%, but still made $1.1 million across eight shows.
“Tina,” which played to a capacity of 26% and grossed $380,423 across eight shows, had the second lowest capacity in the week ended Jan. 9. The musical had also reported a low capacity of 37% in the prior week, ended Jan. 2, and grossed $720,171 across eight shows.
Still, “Tina” has held to relatively high average ticket prices, recording $166 in the week ended Jan. 2 and $124 in the week ended Jan. 9. Its Jan. 9 price is in line with “Hadestown” and just below “Six.” “The Music Man” had the highest average ticket price that week, at $283, followed by “Hamilton” at $222.
The data also reveals early numbers for “The Music Man,” which began previews on Dec. 20. In the week ended Dec. 26, the musical made $2.2 million across five shows and played to a capacity of 99%. In the week ended Jan. 9 — the musical canceled several performances in late December due to COVID-19 cases — the production made $1.7 million across five shows and played to a capacity of 80%.
In the week before the show announced its nine-week hiatus, “Mrs. Doubtfire” made $933,818 across nine performances and played to a capacity of 77%. It made $665,108 across six shows during Christmas week and played to a capacity of 85%.
The decision to take the hiatus came during the cancellation of 11 performances from Dec. 12 to Dec. 21, and was related to rising COVID-19 costs and falling advances, according to producer Kevin McCollum.