‘Monty’ strips price on B’way

Show nears closing, but no date set

Citing problems plaguing many Broadway shows this summer — an evaporating advance and sluggish ticket sales — “The Full Monty” has announced final markdowns, as it were.

The show is putting orchestra seats — formerly topping out at $85 — on sale for $49 today and announcing its final weeks on Broadway. No firm closing date has been set; Producers will wait and see how the sale affects the weekly B.O. before making that decision.

Sounding philosophical, producer Lindsay Law said, “There’s reason to reinvest and accept some losses when a good month is ahead or a good season is ahead. We did that in the spring, hoping May, traditionally one of the best months, would be good. It wasn’t so good. June and July weren’t better. The fall was too frightening. You don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”

Below break-even

The show recouped its initial $6 million investment shortly after Christmas. But it had been dipping below its break-even in recent months, even as expenses and royalty payments were scaled back. Last week, a particularly brutal one for shows across the board, the B.O. dropped by $83,801 to $295,972, less than half of its potential of $628,547. The show has played a little more than 700 performances.

“You look at your advance and decide how to advertise and how to spend,” said Law. “But when there’s no advance in the till, you don’t dare spend any money.”

As others have observed, since the events of the fall the advances for Broadway shows have been dwindling, and there is still evidence that the presence of tourists hasn’t risen back to pre-Sept. 11 levels. “The public is now buying tickets to theater the way they are buying tickets to movies,” Law observed. “It’s happening to hotels and rental car companies too.”

Attendance plummets

While the Broadway grosses overall are nearly at last year’s levels, attendance figures are down more significantly.

When it opened in fall 2000, “The Full Monty” received mostly rave reviews, but the following spring a little show called “The Producers” came along and stole much of its thunder — and all of the Tonys.

Summing up, Law said, “We all had expectations for a longer run than this, but the experience itself was a glorious one. We had a great time, and it’s been a harmonious production.”

After an initial, big-budget national tour was aborted in the wake of Sept. 11, a smaller tour was put together. That version is still on the road. The show is also on the boards in the West End.

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