B’way takes big dip as ‘700,’ ‘Caesar’ shutter

Summer brings B.O. boost for 'Chitty'

Without Billy Crystal and Denzel Washington, Broadway took a big $1,533,367 plunge, its receipts down 8.36%. Most of the slippage could be attributed to the absence of the movie stars’ respective shows, “700 Sundays” and “Julius Caesar,” which shuttered the previous session.

Otherwise, last week’s $16,802,493 tally set a record for the mid-June frame, up $1 million and $3 million, respectively, from 2004 and 2003. Paid attendance came to 248,834, which topped the previous years’ numbers by 10,000-25,000.

Three weeks into the 2005-06 season, it is the same story: New product dazzles, while revivals continue to struggle.

First, the good news:

“Doubt” ($544,176) and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” ($418,515) were up $5,053 and $13,472, respectively. The Pulitzer Prize winner did 99.1% capacity, while the tiny tuner experienced its first sold-out session.

Off $8,093, “The Pillowman” ($391,594) performed at 90.4% capacity.

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” ($813,300), “The Light in the Piazza” ($530,207) and “Monty Python’s Spamalot” ($951,834) were off a little, but all three continued to do biz above 90% capacity, with the Camelot spoof going clean. Due to contractual obligations elsewhere, John Lithgow was out for four perfs of “Scoundrels” last week, but he’s expected to be in for all eight this week. Will that push cap there from 94.1% to 100% for the first time?

Kiddie biz

After great spring-break business, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” ($881,706) had begun to look soft in May. Now, with school out, the kiddie show posted last week’s biggest gain, up $92,145 to do 86.2% capacity in the gargantuan Hilton Theater.

And now for the bad news: Not even closing notices could spike the box office at two play revivals. Closing July 3, “The Glass Menagerie” ($164,765) fell an additional $14,327. Shuttering the same day, “A Streetcar Named Desire” ($253,615) slipped $8,397. Even more ominous, despite advertising “last weeks,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” ($258,928) gained only $2,235 as it went from seven to eight perfs.

Although no notices have been posted, “On Golden Pond” ($162,052) and “Steel Magnolias” ($174,343) took the biggest hits, down $54,642 and $52,363. At least “Pond” had the good excuse of James Earl Jones being out for seven of eight perfs due to illness. The new direct-mail campaign for “Magnolias” should kick in soon.

‘Ross’ revival

Again, the Tony-winning “Glengarry Glen Ross” ($435,883) was the exception that proved the rule. Receipts there actually defied the overall downward trend to grow $1,781.

Up a little, “Fiddler on the Roof” ($434,310) improved but remained mired at 55.7% capacity. Down a little, the 2005 revivals of “Sweet Charity” ($516,007) and “La Cage aux Folles” ($351,816) played to, respectively, 67.8% and 54.9% capacity. “Cage” closes June 26.

And last but not least of the revivals, “The Constant Wife” ($218,481) put in one of the Roundabout’s less illustrious first weeks, as receipts dropped $29,845 due to preem-week comps.

In such company, “Chicago” ($435,698) looks downright miraculous despite a $3,547 drop. On Sunday, the Kander & Ebb tuner put in perf No. 3,578, by far the longest-running revival in Broadway history.

Elsewhere under the top 10, there were minor upticks for “Rent” ($332,093), “After the Night and the Music” ($172,726) and “Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed” ($104,102).

Unlike “Rent” and “Chitty Chitty,” “All Shook Up” ($462,014) did not respond to the school’s-out stampede. Receipts there dropped $36,071. “Movin’ Out” ($451,838) had a similar $23,282 downtick. More minor slippage affected “Avenue Q” ($478,142), off only $6,166.

“Mark Twain Tonight!” ($212,831) went from three to six perfs, and had another $66,655 to show for the effort.

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