New shows may lift post-holiday slump

Broadway cume last week continued its late-summer slippage, as is usually the case before the box office’s annual post-Labor Day nosedive — although with several productions starting up during the current frame, maybe that downturn won’t be so bad.

About as many individual productions posted gains last week as those that logged losses, with “9 to 5″ ($689,795), which shuttered Sept. 6, jumping almost 20% thanks to last-minute biz.

Also reporting solid bumps were “In the Heights” ($777,025), “Chicago” ($650,132) and “Next to Normal” ($459,872), as “Avenue Q” ($498,339) continued to gain momentum in the run-up to its Sept. 13 closing.

Many of the week’s dips looked like minor slowdowns for the Rialto’s top sellers, with “The Lion King” ($1,239,731), which fell more than $110,000 and played to 88% capacity, posting the heftiest drop but still coming in well above the million-dollar mark.

Total sales for 19 shows on the boards slid $1.1 million to $15.8 million, a gap widened by the loss of recently-closed “The Little Mermaid” the prior frame.

Box office for this week, the first back-to-school sesh of the fall, is almost always grim, but a front-loaded lineup seems likely to aid in keeping the Main Stem tally high. This week top-selling play “God of Carnage” will likely contribute a solid chunk of coin to the pot when it returns to the boards after its summer hiatus.

Plus there’s two starry plays, “A Steady Rain” with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman and “Hamlet” with Jude Law, both joining the fray this week and seeming like good bets for strong sales. And then there’s the revival of “Bye Bye Birdie,” returning to Broadway for the first time since its original run. All those seem sure to help alleviate the usual September slump along the Rialto.

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