'Enchanted April' enjoys biggest upswing

Broadway pulled off an Easter miracle one week late. In a welcome break from tradition, biz actually managed a resurrection coming off the holiday session. Thirty-two shows brought in $16,179,324, up $1,275,391 or 8.56% from Easter. Paid attendance jumped 9.65%, to 253,751.

It seemed like old times — or at least autumn 2002. The million-dollar club returned with “The Lion King” ($1,113,286), “Mamma Mia!” ($1,009,551) and “The Producers” ($1,086,677). “Man of La Mancha” ($602,580) was up $240,000 from only three weeks ago. And “Beauty and the Beast” ($660,946) fell off the top 10 despite robust receipts equal to its late April 2000 numbers.

Last week’s good news, however, did not make the session a record-setter. That cigar goes to the $16.79 million earned by 36 productions back in April 24-30, 2000.

Say what you will about the Outer Critics Circle, their noms do mean something. “Enchanted April” ($220,314) grabbed nine and grew $81,277. Matthew Barber’s new adaptation of the English chestnut opens tonight.

While “Enchanted April” enjoyed the biggest upswing percentage-wise, respective gains of $94,360 and $101,249 put “La Boheme” ($677,515) and “Movin’ Out” ($672,230) back on the top 10.

Farther down the list, “La Mancha” grew a nearly impossible $106,179. Elsewhere under the top 10, gains were limited to modest five-figure increases, producing only slightly headier grosses: “Cabaret” ($376,633), “Joe Egg” ($263,564), “Life (x) 3″ ($348,166), “Look of Love” ($234,464), “Rent” ($371,512), “Say Goodnight Gracie” ($131,155), “Take Me Out” ($205,516), “Urban Cowboy” ($116,901), “Urinetown” ($295,065) and “Vincent in Brixton” ($184,665), which closes May 4.

A few notables: Up $19,789, “Chicago” ($599,092) set a house record at the Ambassador Theater for the second week in a row. Adding a B.O. veil of $49,306, “Salome” ($391,843) retained its spot as the best grossing play, even if it is only a reading. And in its first two previews, “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($155,838) did O’Neill proud, its $81.72 average ticket the fourth highest on Broadway.

Two newcomers delivered encouraging improvements that pushed them over their break-even: “The Play What I Wrote” ($217,396) and “A Year With Frog and Toad” ($219,222) gained $31,253 and $23,479, respectively.

A mere six shows ran counter to the upward trend. There were minor downticks for “The Lion King” ($1,113,286) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($662,023), which still managed to replicate its late April 2001 numbers. Bernadette Peters missed four previews of “Gypsy” ($641,245), creating a $19,265 debit from the previous week. Tony voters were invited to take another look at “Hairspray” ($978,396), resulting in a $33,899 plunge there. And a totally comped benefit perf of “Nine” ($557,309) bit $54,909 from its previous tally.

Neither play nor tuner, “Def Poetry Jam” ($95,624) dropped $8,027 to fall to the bottom of the B.O. pile. After 191 perfs and 16 previews, the show is now set to close May 4.

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