No Broadway rebirth

Easter B.O. dips below past totals

Broadway has seen bigger Easter baskets. The $14,903,933 cume fell short of the $16.06 million record set in 2001 and the $15.16 million from Easter week 2002.

Some of the B.O. depression could be attributed to poor timing. This year, the usually bountiful holiday did not coincide with spring break. Easter 2003 arrived after the switch to daylight-saving time. And did we mention there were only 31 shows on the April boards?

Most productions showed some B.O. improvement. A few long-running items, however, didn’t perform with quite the gusto of spring holidays past. For the first time, “Rent” ($342,760) fell under the $400,000 mark for an Easter session. “Beauty and the Beast” ($637,532) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($674,017) were off $100,000-$150,000 from Easter 2002 and ’01.

But a few tourists must be in town. “Beast” and “Phantom” had respective increases of $166,339 and $177,218. “Les Miserables” ($759,274) followed with its $150,608 uptick. And “Nine” ($612,218) came out of its heavily comped opening session with a bounce of $103,624, its final tally just $38,000 short of its gross potential.

‘Frog’ hopping

Percentage-wise, nothing beat the $109,471 splurge delivered by little “Frog and Toad” ($195,743), which more than doubled its previous week’s cume.

Also under the Top 10, “Aida” ($581,962) rose $97,208 while “Movin’ Out” ($570,981) jumped $59,382. More modest five-figure increases affected “Cabaret” ($352,967), “Man of La Mancha” ($496,401), “Urinetown” ($257,950) and “Chicago” ($579,303), which set a house record at the Ambassador Theater.

Plays benefit the least, if at all, from holiday biz. It was no exception this Easter. Up $10,364 and $12,683, respectively, “The Play What I Wrote” ($245,815) and “Take Me Out” ($189,030) pretty much marked time, as did “Def Poetry Jam” ($103,651) and “Joe Egg” ($245,815), which gained even fewer dollars.

‘Gracie’ sinks

Other non-musicals went in the other direction: “Say Goodnight Gracie” ($86,367) fell $6,556, “Life (x) 3” ($337,406) dropped $20,490, and “Vincent in Brixton” ($140,428) nearly cut off its ear, bleeding $32,548.

Maybe the holiday drama jinx also applies to operas: “La Boheme” ($583,155) dipped $11,552. But then it had major competition uptown: Lincoln Center offered no fewer than four perfs of the Puccini warhorse last week.

For shows continuing in previews, the changes in B.O. ranged from the minuscule $3,028 for “Enchanted April” ($139,037 for eight perfs) to the middling $66,516 for “Gypsy” ($660,510 for seven) to the macho $176,094 for “Salome” ($342,537 for seven). The Al Pacino starrer, of course, had the help of four additional previews. That minor detail aside, the Wilde reading replaced “Life (x) 3” as the top-grossing play on Broadway.

People are talking about…

What is an Outer Critics Circle nomination worth, anyway? Or more to the point, can nine OCC noms move a show’s box office numbers? Broadway is about to find out.

On Monday, the crix group made “Enchanted April” its most nominated play contender. Two weeks ago, Matthew Barber’s new adaptation of the English chestnut came into town under the press radar, and has done very modest biz. Suddenly, buzz is building. Ads trumpeting the OCC news are sure to follow. The question remains: Will those nine noms bring in more money at the box office than goes to the New York Times?

Even more intriguing, can that surprise OCC nom for best Broadway musical save “Urban Cowboy”? The troubled show must have had a head-on collision with an electrical bull last week. Off $92,941, its final receipts came to only $87,851. Only the one-man “Say Goodnight Gracie” grossed fewer bucks.

If an OCC nom can save “Urban Cowboy,” it is mightier than the Nobel Peace Prize.

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