New year bow mixed

B'way receipts down but better than last year

Receipts for the first full week of January’s Broadway tally dropped 24.1% from the previous New Year’s Eve week session. Not good news, but consider a year ago when Week 32 fell 34.9% from the record-breaking $17 million-plus NYE’s week of 1999.

Last week produced $11,371,021, which did manage to beat last year’s $11,251,628 total, even though last week’s 219,073 attendance figure was down 21,238 theatergoers from 1999.

Jumbo declines were noted for “The Phantom of the Opera” ($302,160), “Chicago” ($224,858), “Saturday Night Fever” ($207,445) and “Cats” ($206,894).

In previews, “Wrong Mountain” managed to improve, up $21,051 for a $65,893 close on a $408,421 gross potential, but its average ticket price of $24.16 was not the biggest bargain on Broadway: “The Price” price was $22.15 a ticket. “The Lion King” was the only sellout, although “Rent” played 97.39% capacity.

Almost every show that improved had a closing notice attached to its momentary good fortune. For example, “Marie Christine” and “Tango Argentino” gave their last performances Jan. 9. The first, a Michael John LaChiusa tuner, found another $18,902 for a final tally of $319,978, while the dance show posted its biggest gain, $80,572, and best week, $324,315.

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe” calls it quits Sunday, helping it to a $22,628 climb to close at $264,059 last week.

Perhaps news of the Feb. 20 shuttering of “Putting It Together” put the fear in Sondheim fans who gave the show a $65,486 rise for a closing $303,301.

Similar closing-notice magic did not work for “It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues,” which came to rest Jan. 9, and “Ragtime,” which drops the curtain on Jan. 16. “Blues” fell nearly 50% from previous session, to close at $75,851. “Ragtime” dropped $35,112 for a penultimate final of $589,076.

What does the near future look like for Broadway? In two weeks, with no figures from “Ragtime,” “Blues,” “Tango,” “Christine” and “Smokey” to kick around — and no shows previewing to take up the slack — the final tally of Week 34 should be down an automatic $1.5 million, putting total receipts at well under $10 million. In comparison, Week 34 of 1999 came in at $10,437,245.

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