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This Week on Stage: Kenneth Branagh's NYC debut and Tony weekend!

The weekend of the Tonys has finally arrived, and EW will be your shepherd through the entire night, with reports from the red carpet and Radio City Music Hall, and senior editor Thom Geier and myself hosting a live blog of the entire ceremony, beginning at 8 p.m. ET when it airs on CBS. Host Hugh Jackman must already have his eyes on a prize for next season when he returns for Jerusalem playwright Jez Butterworth’s three-person drama The River, and other starry productions are slowly finding homes for next season. Glenn Close, John Lithgow, and Martha Plimpton will star in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance this fall at the Golden, James Earl Jones returns to Broadway in You Can’t Take it With You at the Longacre, and Bradley Cooper’s long-awaited return to Broadway in The Elephant Man is solid, with he and costars Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola assuming the Booth Theatre, a relatively intimate house, and perfect for B. Coop oglers as he will be largely unclothed for a large portion of the play. In other news, Blue star Julia Stiles returns to NYC in an Off-Broadway in a new work Off Broadway called Phoenix (her first production since tackling David Mamet’s Oleanna in 2009).

But never fear, EW’s Thom Geier is still checking out the latest productions amidst the Tony tornado; this week’s offerings include Kenneth Branagh (above) in his first-ever NYC stage appearance, Boardwalk Empire and Man of Steel star Michael Shannon tearing up Eugene Ionesco in Brooklyn, and veteran English actor Jim Dale (the voice behind the Harry Potter audiobooks) in a bioplay about his considerable theater career (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY

Broadway box office: 'Matilda' joins 'Motown' and 'Lucky Guy' as a new hit

Matilda has emerged as a Dahled-up hit of the new Broadway season. In its first full week since its April 11 opening, the rapturously reviewed musical earned $1.13 million for the week ending April 21, according to figures from the Broadway League. That’s a 51 percent increase in ticket sales from the previous week, and represents nearly 89 percent of the potential gross from the Shubert Theatre.

Matilda is one of four brand-new shows that joined this week’s Million Dollar Club of high earners on the Great White Way. The Tom Hanks-topped drama Lucky Guy raked in $1.41 million, fully 124 percent of its potential earnings due to premium-priced ticket sales; Motown the Musical pulled down $1.15 million, 81 percent of its maximum; and the Cyndi Lauper musical Kinky Boots kicked up $1.06 million, about 73 percent of its potential high.

Rounding out this week’s Million Dollar Club are four long-running mainstays: The Lion King ($1.84 million); Wicked ($1.81 million); The Book of Mormon ($1.67 million); and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ($1.06 million).

Five more shows are slated to open this week, including a high-profile (and high-flying) revival of the musical Pippin, which last week earned $683,911 (a strong 74 percent of its potential gross).  And there are early indications of box office staying power for Bette Midler’s one-woman play I’ll Eat You Last, which broke a new record last week for the relatively small Booth Theatre with $686,031 in sales. What’s even more impressive is that the Divine Miss M is playing just seven performances a week (most Broadway shows do eight).

Some other star-driven nonmusical newbies — including The Nance with Nathan Lane, Orphans with Alec Baldwin, Macbeth with Alan Cumming, and The Trip to Bountiful with Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. — have yet to spark much box office heat. Each show may have to hope for a strong critical embrace (several have only just opened or will be debuting in coming days) and the even stronger embrace of the Tony nominating committee (which announces its picks on April 30).

Follow Thom on Twitter: @ThomGeier

Read More on EW.com:
This Week on Stage: Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, The Rascals, and a slew of new openings
See Opening Night Video for The Nance
Listen to three tracks from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
EW Stage hub

Alan Cumming returns to Broadway in one-man production of 'Macbeth'

Alan Cumming

Not only is Alan Cumming hitting the Broadway stage in the latest production of Macbeth, but he’s doing it alone.

For only 73 performances, Cumming will star in a one-man version of the Shakespearean drama, in which he plays a patient in a psychiatric unit. The Tony Award winner then proceeds to inhabit every part within the play. Directed by Tony Award winners John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, Cumming’s Macbeth is coming to Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theater from April 7 through June 30 after successful stints at the National Theatre of Scotland and the Lincoln Center Festival.

“Performing Macbeth last year was the most challenging and fulfilling experience of my career by far, and so I am both honored and daunted to do it again in my adopted hometown of New York City,” Cumming said in a press release.

The play’s opening night is Sunday, April 21.

Read more:
Macbeth Review
Alan Cumming plays all the roles in ‘Macbeth’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
This Week on Stage: Dragons, Alan Cumming’s one-man ‘Macbeth,’ and ‘The Exorcist’ in L.A.

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