Great White Way sags to record high

Broadway set a record for the July 4 session, never one of the theater’s fave holiday frames. So much for the good news; the B.O. tally fell $432,704, or 2.69%, from the previous week.

As red-white-and-blue drops go, that’s one of the less scary plummets of the last few years. Receipts did manage to top the July 4 week of 2004 by about $400,000, but paid attendance was off about 5,000 from then. Last week, 229,525 tickets were sold.

It helped that the holiday fell on a Monday, when most shows are dark anyway. The overall decline would have been even more dramatic if not for three new entries: “Lennon” ($305,315) put in its first five previews, “Primo” ($148,966) did four and Suzanne Somers in “The Blonde in the Thunderbird” ($44,132) saw three. Latter’s gross was not the weakest B.O. performance in recent years. One has to go back only to April 2004 to check out “Prymate,” which brought in an amazing $9,851 for its first four previews.

In at least a couple of cases, the rich got richer. Up $11,778, “Wicked” ($1,302,256) set a house record at the Gershwin. And gaining $20,539, “Monty Python’s Spamalot” ($1,010,063) became the first show at the Shubert to join the million-dollar club.

Bubbling under those two mega-tuners, there were modest to tiny gains for “Mamma Mia!” ($960,965), “Movin’ Out” ($470,452), “Chicago” ($464,127) and “Rent” ($358,534).

“All Shook Up” ($505,479) managed a somewhat more sizable bump than any on those productions, its receipts up $32,079. The Elvis Presley tuner played to a surprisingly robust 80.8% capacity, but did so by offering a cut-rate $45.84 average-price ticket.

Not so cheap, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” ($450,625) was going for an average price of $79.76, just a bit under the going rate for Broadway’s four top-grossing shows. “Bee” receipts were down just $707 from the show’s previous record-setting week at Circle in the Square.

Also under the top 10, “Beauty and the Beast” ($657,265), “The Light in the Piazza” ($515,606), “Sweet Charity” ($483,379), “Avenue Q” ($452,017) and “Fiddler on the Roof” ($423,434) were somewhat more adversely affected by the general lull in biz.

Plays usually retreat over a holiday session, and last week was no exception. Off $11,266, “Doubt” ($527,799) continued to sell out, its B.O. perked by an awesome $71.40 average-price ticket. “Glengarry Glen Ross” ($434,269) and “The Pillowman” ($326,927) took slightly larger five-figure hits, each show playing to about 80% capacity. At its B.O. peak (May 16-22), the Martin McDonagh drama made $415,158 and did 92.5% capacity.

The revivals of “Steel Magnolias” ($139,918) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” ($220,212 for seven perfs) each put in its lowest-grossing sesh to date. Over at the Roundabout, “The Constant Wife” ($282,852) marked time, its receipts up $8,420.

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