B’way breaks records over Easter weekend

Receipts over 18% from last week

Easter looked a lot like Christmas. Broadway set a record for the Big Bunny time frame.

Thirty-four shows brought in $18,632,570, up $2,941,481 or 18.75% from the previous week. The 2005 tally tops the $17.57 million Broadway earned in 2004 (Apr. 5-11) and the $14.90 million in 2003 (Apr. 14-20). And it wasn’t just dollars. The 274,541 in paid attendance was also a marked improvement over recent years.

A few long-running shows scored higher receipts than they did for Easter week 2004. The new premium prices helped, but more tix were also sold. Those escalating tuners included “Wicked” ($1,211,713), “The Lion King” ($1,191,673), “Beauty and the Beast” ($889,016), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($747,916), “Chicago” ($618,463), “Avenue Q” ($521,392) and “Rent” ($513,112), up $108,700 from last Easter.

The holiday session was not good news for “Dame Edna” ($178,879) and “Democracy” ($157,089), which continued their respective slides at the box office, down $2,166 and $15,856. The Michael Frayn play has advertised “last weeks.”

The previewing “Steel Magnolias” ($205,202 for 7) was the only other show to see its receipts decrease. Dropping $30,762, the femme-starrer had the good excuse of performing one less preview than the week before.

New to the street were “The Pillowman” ($245,670 for 8), “On Golden Pond” ($179,011 for 8) and “A Streetcar Named Desire” ($105,472 for 2). “The Light in the Piazza” ($237,953) put in its first full week of previews. Opening this session are “Doubt” ($338,667), up $18,739, and “Julius Caesar” ($613,319), up $51,369 and playing to 93.6% capacity. The Bard’s average price ticket stood at an awesome $82.13.

Expanding $63,560, “All Shook Up” ($579,321) achieved the rare feat of seeing its gross grow, despite lots of crix comps and preem-night freebies. The Elvis tuner performed at 93.1% capacity, but with a heavily discounted $45.60 average price ticket. Gross potential looms way overhead at $1,015,477 at the Palace.

Up $26,197, “The Glass Menagerie” ($338,145) also managed an uptick over its preem session.

Elsewhere under the Top Ten, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” ($394,217) took the biggest B.O. leap, its receipts for 8 perfs up a whopping $199,114 over its lackluster preview session of 7. The Edward Albee revival opened March 20.

“Movin’ Out” ($690,518) took a $87,959 jump. But other shows were less blessed over the holiday. More modest five-figure increases bumped up receipts for “Little Women” ($464,761), “Good Vibrations” ($356,309), “Twelve Angry Men” ($293,278), “Brooklyn” ($288,536), “Freshly Squeezed” ($158,148) and “Brooklyn Boy” ($226,442), which closed March 27, its receipts up only $7,230.

In & Out

Robert Goulet replaces Daniel Davis in “La Cage aux Folles” on Broadway. Goulet’s first perf has been set for sometime in mid-April. Davis got the ax over the weekend, his exit being March 27. John Hillner plays the role of Georges during the interim.

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