Plays take center stage

Broadway grosses

It really is the season of the play on Broadway.

In Week 28 (Dec. 3-9), the Rialto revival of “Cyrano de Bergerac” ($906,119) starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner vaulted into the boffo sales bracket achieved by such top-selling play hits as “Three Days of Rain” and “The Odd Couple.” Show also broke the record for any single perf (play or musical) at the Richard Rodgers Theater, where the Dec. 8 evening outing of “Cyrano” sold $153,880 worth of ducats.

Another play, the new Tom Stoppard offering “Rock ‘n’ Roll” ($501,015), also logged its best tally ever and demonstrated a swift B.O. recovery in the first full week of perfs since the recent stagehands strike was resolved Nov. 28.

The week also saw the opening of four commercial plays that all received favorable press. Buzz-magnet “August: Osage County” ($327,132) reported its highest sales so far, as did “The Farnsworth Invention” ($267,479). It remains to be seen what will be the box office effects of the positive notices earned later in the week by “The Seafarer” ($136,726) and “Is He Dead?” ($134,217).

Taking into account the estimated grosses for tuner “Young Frankenstein” (approximately $1.54 million), Broadway was almost exactly on par with the same sesh the prior year. As in 2006, total cume for the week hit $21.2 million — although last year there were 32 shows on the boards compared with 34 this year.

The only production left to open before year’s end, the revival of Harold Pinter’s play “The Homecoming” ($172,953), played its first week of previews, while previewing tuner “The Little Mermaid” ($673,995) continued to attract near-capacity crowds.

Otherwise, nearly every show on the Rialto rose by a hefty amount over the previous week, during which most productions played only five or six perfs due to the strike.

“Wicked” ($1,446,244) rocketed up more than $500,000, while “Jersey Boys” ($1,367,780), up about $480,000, broke yet another house record at the August Wilson. “The Phantom of the Opera” ($698,374) almost doubled its tally from the week before.

Also feeling some holiday cheer was “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($1,376,658), which went from 13 to 14 perfs last week and had an additional $150,000 to show for it.

The 24 musicals grossed $16,196,040 ($17,636,040 estimated) for 82.2% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 199,379 at 78.5% capacity and average paid admission of $81.23.

The 11 plays grossed $3,531,543 for 17.8% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 54,702 at 60% capacity and average paid admission of $64.23.

Average paid admission was $77.57 for all shows.

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