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Healthy holiday for top musicals

Broadway Summary

NEW YORK — Every show in the Broadway top 10 grossed more than $1 million in Week 27 (Nov. 24-30), a healthy holiday frame dominated by crowdpleasing tuners.

Total cume hit $22.3 million (or $22.9 million including estimates for “Young Frankenstein”) — far better than last year’s Thanksgiving tally, which was hobbled by the stagehands strike that darkened most Broadway productions. But it didn’t top 2006, which saw sales hit nearly $23.4 million.

In a potentially worrying sign for industry watchers on the lookout for omens of a box office recession, attendance last week was 243,061, down from the 272,488 logged in 2006 and the 259,948 posted in 2005.

On the other hand, the week’s official attendance does not include those theatergoers who turned out for “Young Frankenstein,” and this year’s numbers include 30 productions on the boards vs. 33 in 2006 and 32 in 2005.

Already-hot shows were in even greater demand, with “Wicked” ($1,800,907) logging a Thanksgiving record for Broadway (and the show’s second-highest tally ever, just behind the sum posted for the Christmas 2007 frame). “The Lion King” ($1,470,554) and “Jersey Boys” ($1,293,510) joined “Wicked” at the head of the pack.

Newer offerings also muscled their way up the list, with “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” ($1,260,809) drawing holiday crowds with receipts further boosted by the fact that the show played nine perfs last week instead of the usual eight.

Continuing the box office momentum that has been building since it began perfs earlier this fall, the recently opened “Billy Elliot” ($1,245,926) received a hearty bump, and “Shrek the Musical” ($1,052,975), still in previews, saw receipts more than double over the prior sesh.

As is usually the case, plays proved less likely to attract holiday tourists. “All My Sons” ($582,377) and “Speed-the-Plow” ($548,701) continued to do solid biz, although “August: Osage County” ($364,346), up about $50,000, didn’t register much of a bump.

Several nontuners skedded only seven perfs last week, including “Boeing-Boeing” ($309,287), “A Man for All Seasons” ($259,823) and “Dividing the Estate” ($257,983).

From here Broadway heads into the frames between Thanksgiving and Christmas, traditionally a strong time for the Main Stem. Whether this year’s sales remain on par with prior holiday seasons will be much discussed along the Rialto in the coming weeks.

The 22 musicals grossed $18,767,307 for 84% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 195,684 at 83.9% capacity and average paid admission of $95.91.

The nine plays grossed $3,561,702 for 16% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 47,377 at 16% capacity and average paid admission of $75.18.

Average paid admission was $91.87 for all shows.

— Gordon Cox and Sam Thielman

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