Helen Mirren Steers 'The Audience' to Swift Recoupment on Broadway

Joan Marcus
Helen Mirren in "The Audience"

The Peter Morgan play, directed by Stephen Daldry, has earned back its $3.4 million production costs in a remarkably fast eight weeks.

What do you get when you cross a dame with a queen? No, that's not some politically incorrect joke; it's a formula for quick Broadway success when the lady and the monarch in question are Dame Helen Mirren and Queen Elizabeth II.

Peter Morgan's play The Audience, in which Mirren returns to the role that won her a best actress Oscar in The Queen, has recouped its $3.4 million investment just eight weeks after the start of previews and five weeks after its official opening, producers announced Monday.

Directed by Stephen Daldry, the play is a fictionalized account of the weekly closed-door meetings between the British sovereign and her prime ministers, spanning encounters that begin in 1952 with Winston Churchill and continue to the present day, with David Cameron.

Read more 'The Audience': Theater Review

Lead producers on the show are Matthew Byam ShawRobert Fox and Andy Harries. The ensemble cast includes Dylan Baker as John MajorJudith Ivey as Margaret ThatcherDakin Matthews as Churchill and Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson.

While star-driven limited engagements like The Audience are packaged to turn a profit in a short time, such a rapid move into the black is relatively uncommon on Broadway. The production has consistently grossed north of $1 million a week, playing at 100 percent capacity since beginning its full seven-performance schedule. The play's cumulative box office just passed the $9 million mark.

Read more 'King Charles III' to Reign on Broadway

While Mirren is clearly the major draw, the production's success indicates a strong appetite for royal drama among New York theatergoers, which bodes well for the just-announced transfer in the fall of another London hit, King Charles III.

The Audience returns to London's West End on April 21, this time with Kristin Scott Thomas in the lead role. The Broadway staging with Mirren runs through June 28 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

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