‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Is Shaping Up to Be a Hit
“The new musical “Dear Evan Hansen” grossed more than $1 million at the box office last week, crossing the symbolic milestone for the first time and suggesting that the show is on its way to becoming a rare Broadway hit.
The musical, about an anxious adolescent whose social status improves after the suicide of a high school classmate, has benefited from strong reviews and positive word of mouth. And, in another sign that it is breaking through in a crowded theater season, it has begun attracting a stream of celebrities — Scarlett Johansson was at the first preview; Zendaya has seen it twice; and other audience members have included Tina Fey, Carole King, Emma Stone, Calvin Klein and Mindy Kaling.
“Dear Evan Hansen,” with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a book by Steven Levenson and direction by Michael Greif, had multiple obstacles to overcome. It is an original musical with an unfamiliar title in a market dominated by adaptations and revivals; it has no major celebrities in its cast; and the subject matter is dark. But the show built a fan base through pre-Broadway productions at Arena Stage in Washington and Second Stage off Broadway, and a powerhouse performance by 23-year-old Ben Platt (best known for the “Pitch Perfect” movies) in the title role has helped make the show a must-see.
The show grossed $1,051,248 during the week that ended Sunday, according to figures released Monday by the Broadway League. That is a strong showing for any Broadway production, but all the more so because “Dear Evan Hansen” has fewer seats to sell than most — it is playing at the 984-seat Music Box Theater, which is smaller than the houses generally used for Broadway musicals. (By way of comparison: “Paramour,” the Cirque du Soleil musical, is playing in an 1,896-seat house — nearly twice the size — but nonetheless grossed slightly less than “Dear Evan Hansen” last week.)
There are other signs of financial strength for the musical: Its average paid admission last week was a healthy $132 and its audiences were at 103 percent of capacity (meaning some standing room tickets were sold).
The show, which opened Dec. 4, was not especially costly to mount, by Broadway standards, making it more likely that the producers, led by Stacey Mindich, will ultimately be able to steer it to profitability. It is capitalized at $9.5 million, which is lower than the cost of many Broadway musicals, and it has only eight roles, which is fewer than most, and a nine-person band rather than a costly full orchestra.
Also of note in the most recent Broadway League report: The current season, which has generally been lagging slightly behind last in overall grosses, is now running even with it. ” – New York Times