Daylight shines on box office

Broadway Grosses

NEW YORK — The week after daylight saving time often brings box office dips along Broadway — but not so this year. Sales at most shows climbed in Week 42 (March 9-15).

Still, a new entry in the spring’s packed straight-play sked is proving how hard it can be to stand out in a crowded field.

The Neil LaBute play “Reasons to Be Pretty,” a transfer of the lauded Off Broadway incarnation from MCC Theater, posted sales of just $38,297 for three perfs. Another new transfer, “Irena’s Vow,” took in $185,991 for eight perfs.

Slow starts for both these plays are to be expected, particularly since neither has the advantage of a major marquee name along the lines of Will Ferrell, whose hit offering “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W Bush” ($880,470) closed March 15.

But the numbers for “Reasons to Be Pretty,” especially, underscore the difficulty in drawing aud attention in a crowded season of play offerings that includes “God of Carnage” ($394,294 for seven perfs), “33 Variations” ($317,866) and “Impressionism” ($287,551 for seven perfs).

For tuners, sales generally rose despite the clock switchover, with “Billy Elliot” ($1,039,705) returning to the millionaires’ club after a brief dip below the $1 million line. The show landed at No. 3 on the top 10, behind “Wicked” ($1,305,496) and the revival of “West Side Story” ($1,048,505), holding steady with stellar receipts.

No legiter has ever really come up with a logical explanation for the perceived trend of the time-change dropoff, so the fact that most shows didn’t sink last week is, for some observers, more proof that there was never such a trend to begin with.

Previewing revival “Hair” ($618,980) played its first frame of eight perfs to houses filled to an encouraging 86%, while another of the season’s musicals, the recently opened “Guys and Dolls” ($600,572), drew crowds at about that percentage of capacity, repping a solid showing in the wake of some tepid reviews.

Also sticking to the week’s upward trend was another of the season’s new tuners, “Shrek the Musical” ($645,009), playing to about 69% capacity. Play revival “Blithe Spirit” ($425,267), meanwhile, slipped only slightly in its heavily comped opening sesh.

The 16 musicals grossed $12,408,804 for 87.4% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 159,838 at 87.4% capacity and average paid admission of $77.63.

The 10 plays grossed $3,720,895 for 23.1% of the Broadway total, with an attendance of 57,304 at 66.2% capacity and average paid admission of $64.93.

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