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Pre-Tony trough

B'way B.O. dips 5% in pre-nomination week

Do theatergoers actually take a wait-and-see approach to ticket-buying the week before Tony noms are announced? A year ago, 30 of 37 shows took a hit at the box office this session. Last week, 27 of 34 productions went south, with the total tally at $13,646,171, down $754,592, or 5.25%, from the previous week. Frankly, biz during the first week of May 2001 wasn’t much better: Receipts then came to $14,400,763.

“The Graduate” fell $16,219 but still managed to hold the No. 1 spot among plays, grossing $483,959. The new production of “Private Lives” rose $65,272 to end with $409,423, a nifty sum for just seven perfs.

Those two new plays now are outgrossing such long-running musicals as “Cabaret” ($377,267), “Chicago” ($353,155), “Contact” ($250,818), “Les Miserables” ($330,491), “Rent” ($260,196) and “Urinetown” ($214,734).

Meanwhile, “The Crucible” went from eight to seven perfs, dropping $118,934 to land at $327,338, its lowest numbers to date for regular perfs. Down a mere $1,143, “Topdog/Underdog” very much held its own with $291,518.

Otherwise, most plays took four- or five-figure hits that left them on shaky ground and in need of Tony Award reinforcement: “The Elephant Man” ($162,677), “Fortune’s Fool” ($192,325), “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” ($122,149), “Metamorphoses” ($199,725), “Noises Off” ($223,584), “Proof” ($172,086, with Jennifer Jason Leigh on vacation) and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” ($204,821).

Against the downward trend, “QED” produced a $7,398 uptick to close with $104,547, just under its gross potential of $112,010. And putting their heavily comped opening weeks behind them, “The Mystery of Charles Dickens” more than doubled its previous take to finish with $90,965, while “Morning’s at Seven” sprouted $24,339 for a total tally of $193,034. Over at “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” all those comps took a $33,462 bite out of the opening week, giving the Arthur Miller revival a final sum of $176,954.

Of the new musicals, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” lost most of the B.O. ground it gained the previous week. Down $103,489, the camp tuner came in at $509,921. John Lithgow returned from his vacation, creating a $71,512 upswing for “Sweet Smell of Success.” The musical noir grossed $470,522.

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