'Desert,' 'Chinglish' pace pack of four new productions

Broadway box office gained some steam last week as four new productions began previews and “Follies” returned to the millionaires’ club.

“Other Desert Cities” ($334,839 for six previews), “Chinglish” ($305,443 for eight), “Godspell” ($268,641 for six) and “Venus in Fur” ($157,454 for five) all joined the fray, with “Desert Cities” debuting impressively for a nonprofit play production, powered by a well-reviewed Off Broadway stint last season and a cast that includes recognizable faces Rachel Griffiths, Stacy Keach and Stockard Channing. Attendance for that one came close to 98%.

“Chinglish” logged decent numbers for a show that’s just beginning to carve out a New York profile, while well-known title “Godspell” started modestly, logging attendance of just under 80% of capacity.

“Follies” ($1,037,906), which reported a dip two weeks ago likely prompted by a flurry of soon-to-expire discount ducat prices, jumped back up over the $1 million mark, continuing to stand out as an unusually strong-selling production of a Stephen Sondheim musical. Also rising notably was Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett starrer “The Mountaintop” ($659,680), climbing some 24% over the prior frame despite the heavily-comped opening night Oct. 13.

Meanwhile, any worries that Broadway biz would take a hit from the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, which decamped over the weekend to Times Square for a temporary gathering, proved unfounded. “Priscilla Queen of Desert” ($860,673), for instance, rose by more than $100,000, fueled by an appearance earlier in the week on Rosie O’Donnell’s new talkshow. “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” ($1,574,705) also stepped up by about the same amount, while “Man and Boy” ($287,334) shot up by 48% in the wake of strong reviews for Frank Langella’s star turn.

Rialto cume hit $21,328,673 for 26 shows on the boards. Attendance tally of 229,906 came to 88% of overall capacity, well ahead of last season at this time, when attendance rang in at 80%.

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