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Warm weather heats B.O. to $15 mil high

Musicals gain a good six figures over previous week

It’s the weather, stupid.

Broadway followed its Presidents Day session, which set a box office record of $14.75 million, with another high last week.

Twenty-six shows brought in $15,060,670, up $305,034 or 2.07% from the holiday. After being locked in a deep freeze for the first five weeks of the year, box office biz is warming up. A year ago, 28 shows collected $13.79 million for this time frame. Paid attendance then came to 212,722. With two fewer shows on the boards, last week’s roster saw that figure climb more than 20,000 to hit a scorching 233,364.

Five musicals led the charge, each gaining a good six figures over the previous week: “Hairspray” ($976,724), “The Lion King” ($1,131,645), “Movin’ Out” ($711,950), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($633,413) and “Gypsy” ($654,246), which rose $122,771 to put Mama Rose back in the top 10.

No show had comparable movement in the opposite direction, although “Aida” ($560,105) came close with its $95,746 plunge. Off $47,507, “Rent” ($343,252) also found itself sliding.

Under the top 10, the other tuners pretty much marked time, with minor declines for “Beauty and the Beast” ($607,252) and “Wonderful Town” ($541,654) and slight upticks for “Chicago” ($546,949), “Thoroughly Modern Millie” ($523,298), “Little Shop of Horrors” ($462,066) and “Avenue Q” ($400,164), in its second highest-grossing perf to date for a nonholiday session.

While the warmer weather may be helping the tuners, plays continue to look tragic for all the wrong reasons. Falling receipts affected “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” ($381,576), “Drowning Crow” ($154,387), “I Am My Own Wife” ($151,255), “Golda’s Balcony” ($148,487) and “Anna in the Tropics” ($199,546) in its final week.

“The Retreat From Moscow” ($188,925), which closes Sunday, managed to rise $8,761. And at 98.4% capacity, Lincoln Center Theater’s Christopher Plummer starrer “King Lear” ($241,132) closed up $29,432 to follow in the soldout footsteps of its recent “Henry IV.”

Downtown shift

Off Broadway, Shannon Cochran replaces Amanda Plummer in Tracy Letts’ upcoming play “Bug.” The switch pushed back the first preview five days to Thursday at the Barrow Street Theater. No opening date has been set.

Out-of-town preem

Disney opens its “On the Record” Nov. 9 at Cleveland’s Palace Theater. The Robert Longbottom-helmed revue features more than 50 songs from Disney movies. After leaving Cleveland Nov. 21, “On the Record” tours for at least a year while Disney execs contemplate a New York move.

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