'Phantom,' 'Music Man,' 'Lion King' weather the cold

NEW YORK — Christmas Eve week brought almost as much B.O. grief to Broadway this year as it did last year, when receipts fell a Grinch-like 11%. In 2000, the blow was softened ever so slightly to 10.9%, with the total sliding $1,490,535 to close at $12,089,940.

Approximately one-third of that drop this year can be attributed to eight shows that went from eight to seven perfs last week, adding a ninth to the more lucrative New Year’s Eve week. A year ago, only three shows went the seven-perf sked for Christmas Eve week.

Scrooge did not visit every production. Tourists went for “Phantom of the Opera,” which grew $77,267, while families sent “The Music Man” up $13,094. “Rent” also improved, with $24,227 on the plus side.

In a sked reversal, “Betrayal” went from seven to eight performances last week and had an additional $10,236 to show for it. Most spectacularly, “The Lion King” shot up $137,419, with its average price ticket going from $67.25 the previous week to $76.72 last session.

Seven-perf skeds produced a few six-figure freefalls: “Aida” (down $104,568), “Annie Get Your Gun” (down $122,657), “Fosse” (down $125,792) and “Kiss Me, Kate” (down $175,357). Elsewhere, the closing notices for “Saturday Night Fever” (down $183,849) and “Swing!” (down $81,952) did not send ticket-buyers running to the box office.

‘Proof’ positive

Playgoing was not in the Christmas spirit: “The Dinner Party” (down $107,147) and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” (down $83,488) suffered, while “Proof” (down $25,269) weathered the cold. For the first time in regular performances, “Proof” enjoyed total receipts ($312,182) that bettered those for “Allergist’s Wife” ($271,152) and “The Dinner Party” ($288,989).

In the new musical category, attendance percentages were not especially cheery. “Jane Eyre” played to 53.01% capacity, with total receipts at $253,778, down $80,300 from the previous week. “Seussical” performed at 59.37% cap, with its receipts at $414,201, down only $21,581. “The Full Monty” stripped away $128,156 for a final $499,917 on a gross potential of $652,577. Capacity was 77.77%.

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