B’way sees small B.O. upswing

'Wicked,' 'Cat' spring upward; 'Aida' sags

Despite coming off a holiday week, Broadway managed a slight increase at the box office. Very slight. Twenty-six shows brought in $13,714,467, up $150,351 or 1.11% from the previous session. Only seven shows saw their receipts shrink. Last year’s higher tally for this time frame came to a record-setting $14.9 million, but there were three more shows on the boards back then.

Total B.O. was a bit of a wash last week: “The Violet Hour” ($140,064) began previews at the newly renovated Biltmore, putting in five perfs. Over at “Golda’s Balcony” ($60,343), a previous commitment saw Tovah Feldshuh skedding just three perfs, including opening night. In other words, the $193,752 drop at her theater more than canceled out the six-figure addition of the Richard Greenberg play.

Other shows experiencing a decline in receipts: “Aida” ($760,122), “Avenue Q” ($346,063), “Chicago” ($627,652), “Nine” ($540,235), “Rent” ($320,077) and “Movin’ Out” ($651,099), which fell $53,463 to spend one of its rare weeks out of the top 10. Small consolation: Numbers for the Billy Joel tuner set a non-holiday record high for the No. 11 slot.

Biggest upswing came from “Wicked” ($821,248), which went from six to eight previews and had another $158,582 to show for it. The new tuner entered the top 10 at the exalted No. 5 slot, right after “The Producers” ($945,862).

Still in previews, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” ($442,599) rose $108,104 as it went from five to eight performances.

Taking ‘Lessons’

Elsewhere under the top 10, other shows took somewhat less spectacular leaps. Five-figure increases blessed “Beauty and the Beast” ($625,699), “Little Shop of Horrors” ($449,755), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($638,391) and previewing play “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” ($136,633).

Four-figure upticks greeted “Cabaret” ($393,044), “Take Me Out” ($258,125), “Urinetown” ($256,045) and the previewing “Retreat From Moscow” ($264,756).

Sign of the new regime? Despite the names John Lithgow, Eileen Atkins, Ben Chaplin, Daniel Sullivan and William Nicholson, the Sunday New York Times chose not to bestow a feature article upon “Retreat,” which opens Thursday.

‘Scoundrels’ gears up

The December workshop of the much-anticipated “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” gets a dream cast: Brian Stokes Mitchell snatches the Michael Caine role and Norbert Leo Butz takes over for Steve Martin in this stage version. The women they try to bamboozle include Christine Ebersole and Sherie Rene Scott. “Scoundrels” features a score by David Yazbek (“The Full Monty”), book by Jeffrey Lane (“Mad About You”) and direction by Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray”).

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