31 productions fuel record July week at B.O.

More product makes for more bucks. Due to an unseasonal plethora of shows (31, count ‘em, 31!), Broadway set a record of $13,826,055 for the last week of July, which was up $523,595, or 3.95%, from the previous session. Those total-receipt figures compare with $13.4 million for 27 shows a year ago and $12.7 million for 26 in July 2000. Paid admissions continued to lag, but with last week’s 229,828, the gap was smaller from the 235,000 of 2001 and the 231,000 of 2000.

Most of last week’s gains came from the entry of “The Boys From Syracuse” ($193,894 for six previews); “Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune” ($132,373 for four); and “Hairspray” ($621,405 for eight previews), which doubled its perf sked from the previous week.

Is “Hairspray” the next “Producers“? Comparing each show’s first full week of previews, here’s how they stack up. At the 1,385-seat Neil Simon Theater, “Hairspray” performed at 84.8% capacity, with an average ticket price of $66.11. At the 1,664-seat St. James Theater, “The Producers” (March 26-April 1, 2001) did $975,849 at 99.41% capacity with an average ticket price of $73.74.

However, “Hairspray” knocked “Into the Woods” out of its No. 10 spot on the B.O. chart as the Stephen Sondheim revival failed to hold on to last week’s splurge, rising just $161 to finish with $486,687.

Sad state of affairs

While it was a good week for most tuners, “Oklahoma!” experienced a reversal of fortune as its B.O. fell $70,077, the biggest drop of the week. The show’s total cume of $697,948 represented its lowest numbers to date for regular perfs.

Under the top 10, the C-brigade of musicals all registered five-figure increases: “Cabaret” ($429,639), “Chicago” ($411,866) and “Contact” ($264,471). “The Full Monty” rose a similar $22,172, giving it $357,950. Tuner posted a closing notice for Sept. 1.

Those tuners that fell last week kept the slippage to just four figures: “Les Miserables” ($379,270), “Rent” ($344,436) and “Urinetown” ($345,738).

On the drama front, “The Graduate” may look forward to the return of Jason Biggs Aug. 20. Down $32,509, the movie redux grossed $381,054, which is good enough to retain the title of highest-grossing play but nearly $200,000 under the production’s potential.

Not shaping up

“Metamorphoses” also took a five-figure hit ($14,611) to end up with $183,729.

Closing notices can work wonders: In its final week, “Morning’s at Seven” jumped $39,290 to finish with $163,155, while in its third-to-last sesh, “Topdog/Underdog” shot up $34,072 to close at $283,262. “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” advertised final weeks for stars Bill Pullman and Mercedes Ruehl, creating a $18,981 bounce and a final cume of $177,580.

No end in sight? “Proof” ($184,218) and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” ($239,946) got smaller injections of cash, while “Noises Off” ($189,777) continued to slip.

On Thursday, the 2002-03 Broadway season kicked off with a revival of Herb Gardner’s “I’m Not Rappaport.” The good news: Due to all those press comps, most shows drop their opening week — but not “Rappaport,” which grew $19,645. The bad news: It grossed only $92,706 out of a potential $416,791. As one Shubert Alley cynic put it, the new season is off and crawling.

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