'Hedwig,' Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Joins the Broadway Profit Circle

Neil Patrick Harris in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'
Neil Patrick Harris in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch'
 Joan Marcus

NEW YORK — After setting new house box office records four times at Broadway's Belasco Theatre, the Tony-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is now officially a hit, recouping its $5 million capitalization in just 16 weeks.

"Well, I guess New York loves Ms. Hedwig," said lead producer David Binder. "Our girl is feeling it now!"

An instant sensation since it began previews on March 29, the mock-concert musical had its official opening on April 22 and has been regularly cracking the $1 million mark in weekly grosses since it collected a handful of Tony Awards in June.

Nominated for eight Tonys, it won four — for best musical revival, for lead actor Neil Patrick Harris' electrifying turn as the transgender rocker from East Berlin with a botched sex reassignment surgery, for featured actress Lena Hall as Hedwig's gender-ambiguous husband and for Kevin Adams' lighting design.

Directed by Michael Mayer, the production drew near-unanimous rave reviews. Cumulative box office to date stands at $14.6 million, which is remarkable for a show playing in a relatively small 1000-seat theater, with just seven performances per week, compared to the standard eight.

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Written by John Cameron Mitchell, with music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, the show began life as an off-off-Broadway punk-meets-glam rock cabaret act at downtown venue Westbeth before moving to the Jane Street Theatre in Feb. 1998, where it ran for two years. Its cult following was further fueled by the 2001 Fine Line screen version, directed by and starring Mitchell.

Producers and Broadway pundits will now be watching Hedwig closely to see how the musical fares after Harris closes out his limited run on Aug. 17.

Andrew Rannells — a Tony nominee for The Book of Mormon, who has since been seen on Ryan Murphy's NBC sitcom The New Normal, and in a recurring role on HBO's Girls — has signed on to replace Harris. His limited engagement is scheduled for Aug. 20 through Oct. 12.

While the 2013-14 Broadway season has seen its share of commercial flops, among them The Bridges of Madison County, Big Fish and Rocky, the latter having set an Aug. 17 closing date on Tuesday, Hedwig is the latest in a string of shows from the season to announce recoupment. It is also the first of the musicals, which generally have higher overheads than plays and take longer to recoup.

Other recent financial successes have included fellow Tony winners A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington; All the Way, which headlined Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson; and the smash Shakespeare's Globe double of Richard III and Twelfth Night, which earned a third Tony for Mark Rylance.

Also in the black are the Binder-produced revival Of Mice and Men with James Franco and Chris O'Dowd; The Glass Menagerie with Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto; Betrayal, which starred Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Rafe Spall; and the return engagement of Billy Crystal's stage memoir, 700 Sundays.

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