The Tony Awards ceremony occurred on June 9 signaling the official completion of the 2012-13 Broadway season. According to end-of-season (May 28, 2012 – May 26, 2013) statistics released by The Broadway League: shows yielded $1.14 billion in grosses, and total attendance reached 11.6 million.
The season offered 46 new shows, including 15 musicals (nine new, four revivals, two returns), 26 plays (14 new, 12 revivals) and five special productions. The 26 plays produced this season is a record number. The previous record was 25 in 2010-11.
Attendance was down by 6.2 percent to its lowest level in eight years, with theater producers blaming Hurricane Sandy as well as a weak lineup of musicals and plays during the fall and winter. Approximately 11.57 million people attended Broadway productions during the season, compared to 12.33 million in the previous one.
The high cost of ticket prices may have contributed to the fall in attendance: many musicals and some plays now sell their best seats at premium ticket levels of between $200 and $300, with relatively inexpensive seats relegated to the worst locations in the theaters.
Broadway box office grosses were virtually unchanged, meanwhile; shows this season grossed a total of $1.139 billion, a fraction less than the year before.
The executive director of the Broadway League, Charlotte St. Martin, pointed to the hurricane’s devastation and “early closings of some of our open-ended runs” as the factors behind the lower attendance.
During Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath last October and early November, most Broadway shows canceled several days of performances, and attendance was sluggish for weeks afterwards at all but the most popular musicals. At other points in the season, musicals such as Chaplin, Scandalous, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sister Act, Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Jekyll & Hyde closed earlier than producers had hoped; another show, Evita, ended its run this winter when the producers chose not to recast the leading roles.
As far as musicals – Tony nominators favored big-cast productions with relatively traditional plots and old-fashioned scores, and bypassed several shows and performances that were more challenging or experimental. The biggest commercial hit among the new shows – Motown: The Musical, was snubbed in the best musical and best actor categories, reflecting mixed judgments from critics.
Next week: Broadway’s Musicals