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B’way breaks a leg

B.O., attendance both take upward swing

For the second week in a row, Broadway set a B.O. record as 30 shows brought in $15,691,089 for the Palm Sunday session. More important, last week’s paid attendance (244,645) easily topped biz for this time frame in 2004 (237,777) and 2003 (206,815).

The tally would have looked even taller, except Billy Crystal took a break. His “700 Sundays” went dark for the week.

A couple of new shows helped take up the slack: “The Light in the Piazza” ($131,569) put in its first four previews; “Steel Magnolias” ($235,964) did a full eight.

“Doubt” ($319,928) and “Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed” ($148,120) went into their second week of previews. Receipts for the nun’s story were up a lot ($78,116), not so much for Mason ($4,745).

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” ($195,103) put in six previews and its opening night during the week.

On the chopping block this week: “All Shook Up” ($515,761) increased handsomely, up $99,680, despite weekend crix comps. The new Elvis Presley tuner preems Thursday. Freebies took a minor $7,907 bite out of “The Glass Menagerie” ($311,948), which opens tonight.

With or without the reviews, “Julius Caesar” ($561,950) looks like Broadway’s next superhit. Up $16,801, the Denzel Washington starrer played to 87.1% capacity, with a huge $80.90 average ticket price, the third highest on Broadway. Only megatuners “Wicked” ($1,202,076) and “The Lion King” ($1,181,735) averaged more per ticket, $83.06 and $81.50, respectively.

‘Spam’ takes 10

In the No. 10 spot but not for long: Opening night and crix tix took a $127,118 bite out of “Spamalot” ($690,635). Bets are on for its B.O. perf during Easter week. Gross potential at the Shubert is $910,451, but that doesn’t count premium tix.

For the second session in a row, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” ($738,317) scored a six-figure increase, its gross up $115,352. Even bigger bumps spurred the box office at “Beauty and the Beast” ($760,824), up $128,150, and “Fiddler on the Roof” ($732,443), up $124,240. And with spring break, “Rent” ($504,016) made a big $117,385 leap.

Broadway’s overall B.O. health can be measured by what show’s gross failed to make the top 10. Last week, the temperature was springlike if not downright tropical: Up $71,628, “Movin’ Out” ($602,559) was pushed into the No. 11 slot.

In Billy Joel’s wake were “La Cage aux Folles” ($575,892), “Chicago” ($575,012), “Avenue Q” ($497,020), “Little Women” ($413,586), “Good Vibrations” ($325,206), “Brooklyn” ($277,262), “Twelve Angry Men” ($275,928), “Brooklyn Boy” ($219,212) and “Democracy” ($172,945). All shows here increased their receipts by five figures, with “La Cage” up the most, $96,786.

But no gladiolas for Barry Humphries: Despite the balmier weather, his “Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance” ($181,045) took a $24,229 dip, the show’s fourth straight decrease at the box office.

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