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'The Voice' winner joins Broadway's 'Pippin' in title role

Broadway’s circus-inspired musical Pippin has found its new prince… all the way in Los Angeles.

Josh Kaufman, the angel-voiced soul singer who dominated and won the sixth season of NBC’s The Voice, has been tapped to make his Broadway debut in the title role of the smash Broadway revival of Pippin. He’ll play the young eighth-century prince, who grows tired of life in the kingdom and leaves the comforts of home to find purpose.

Starting Nov. 4, Kaufman will take over the reins from Kyle Dean Massey, who exits the show Nov. 2. Kaufman will stick with the production through Jan. 4, 2015.

The Tony-winning revival opened at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre on April 25, 2013, and went on to win four Tony Awards including Best Revival. The show launched its U.S. national tour earlier in September.

Broadway box office: 'Cinderella' and 'Vanya and Sonia' see biggest post-Tony sales bump

The tongue-twisterly titled comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike also saw another spike — in ticket sales — in the week since it won the Tony Award for Best Play on June 9. According to figures from the Broadway League, Christopher Durang’s sendup of Chekhov grossed $654,304 for the week ending June 16, up a whopping 18 percent from the week before. That’s an impressive 85 percent of the potential earnings for the Golden Theatre. Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella — a Tony winner for Best Costumes, which were impressively on display during a production number early in CBS’ Tony broadcast — also saw a 19 percent boost in revenues last week, to $1.06 million. (That’s nearly two-thirds the show’s potential gross.)

Sales for the season’s most highly touted new musicals, Matilda and Best Musical winner Kinky Boots, both rose 4 percent last week, to $1.18 million and $1.47 million, respectively. Both productions have been top grossers, so dramatic sales jumps were unlikely even after their Tony victories — and both gave well-received mini-performances during the Neil Patrick Harris-hosted telecast. Tellingly, though, the average ticket price for each show climbed nearly $5 in the last week — signaling that producers will use premium pricing to eke out more profits from already popular shows. The new revivals of Annie ($962,027) and Pippin ($1.01 million) benefited even more from the primetime exposure, boosting their weekly takings by nearly 8 percent.
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Tony Awards 2013: Who will win?

Despite a Broadway season that saw a 6-percent dip in attendance, theater fans still have cause for celebration at this Sunday’s Tony Awards. There’s a  contest heating up for Best Musical, pitting the “revolting” children of Matilda against the fabulous drag queens of Kinky Boots.

And there’s some real suspense in other major categories: Will two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (above) add a Tony to his mantel for his Broadway debut in Lucky Guy? Will former Who’s the Boss star Judith Light win back-to-back Tonys in Best Featured Actress in a Play? EW critics Melissa Rose Bernardo and Thom Geier offer their predictions of who will be step-step-kicking to the podium at Radio City Music Hall this Sunday. (By the way, we’ll also be live-blogging the ceremony, hosted for the fourth time by the Energizer bunny of awards-show hosts, Neil Patrick Harris.) Disagree with our picks? Please let us know who you think will win — or should win — in the comments section.
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Listen to the 'Pippin' Broadway revival cast album -- EXCLUSIVE

Okay, so you may have to imagine Patina Miller’s Leading Player swiveling hips and the circus-trained ensemble dangling from ropes and jumping through hoops. But there’s no doubt you can still groove to the new recording of Broadway’s mega-acclaimed revival of Pippin, up for 10 Tony Awards at the June 9 ceremony on CBS.

The album will feature all of the Stephen Schwartz faves like “Magic to Do,” “No Time at All,” “Morning Glow,” and “On the Right Track,” as well as four “Sing Along with the Pippin Orchestra” tracks featuring a 700-person chorus as backup. Below, listen to an early preview of the entire album before Ghostlight Records releases it digitally on June 4 in advance of a disc launch on July 9. READ FULL STORY

Broadway box office: Despite Tony snub, Bette Midler sees a big boost in ticket sales

Tony, Schmony. Bette Midler may have been snubbed by Tony nominators for her one-woman comedy I’ll Eat You Last, but she’s having the last laugh at the box office. According to figures from the Broadway League, ticket sales for the Divine Miss M’s first Broadway show in 30 years jumped 17 percent for the week ending May 5, to $753,217. That’s a record for the relatively tiny Booth Theatre and comes despite the fact that Midler performed only seven shows (most Broadway productions schedule eight performances per week). Her producers took advantage of premium pricing and stellar reviews, but the Tony snub also allowed them to deny Tony voters free tickets before the June 9 ceremony and re-sell those prime seats at full price.

So what’s a Tony nomination worth these days? For the musical revival Pippin and the star-studded comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the first week since the Tony noms boosted ticket sales by a healthy 10 percent. Pippin, which earned 10 nods (including Best Musical Revival), took in $785,386 for the week ending May 5 — an impressive 85 percent of the potential gross for the Music Box Theatre. Vanya, which earned 6 Tony noms, including Best Play, generated $449,073 at the Golden Theatre — roughly 60 percent of that 804-seat house’s maximum earnings. READ FULL STORY

This Week On Stage: Bette Midler, Alan Cumming, Fiona Shaw, and Cicely Tyson take the stage

Here they are, the last gasp of shows for the 2012-2013 theater season as we approach T-Day (Tony Nomination Day on April 30). And on that note, some notable rulings have been announced: the four young tykes taking on the title role in Matilda will not be competing jointly for Best Actress in a Musical (they will instead receive a special “Tony Honor For Excellence”). And poor Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and all the men in Orphans have been added to the crowded slate of competitors for Leading Actor/Actress, which means about eight Tony-worthy performers will be vying for five spaces in each, already dubbing this year as Sophie’s Choices. Read the full eligibility details here.

This edition features return Broadway favorites like Pippin and The Trip to Bountiful and a particularly solo-show heavy week, with Bette Midler, Fiona Shaw and Brief Encounter’s Tristan Sturrock all holding court (and even Alan Cumming’s take on the Scottish Play falls into the pseudo category). And David Byrne and Fatboy Slim are getting their groove on downtown too. (Click on the links below to read the full reviews):

Here Lies Love  On your feet, disco lovers! No, really. This new David Byrne-Fatboy Slim musical is a literal stand-up experience — wear comfortable shoes! — using the space inside the Public Theater as a full-on dance floor to tell a mirrorballed tale of controversial Philippines strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda. Kyle Anderson declares the odd hybrid a smashing success: The show’s narrative center is so strong and its infectious melodic spirit so complete that it could easily work in a traditional theater setting (or in the round, on a street corner, or in your living room). The fact that you can sweat right along with the incredible cast is a happy-footed bonus.” EW grade: A 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

'Pippin' headed back to Broadway

There’s magic to do on Broadway — Pippin is coming back.

Producers of the revival that is currently playing at the American Repertory Theater outside Boston said late Thursday that Pippin will transfer to the Music Box Theatre this spring. Performances begin March 23 with an official opening on April 25.

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