Declines posted at most individual shows

The dregs of February and early March can be rough on the Rialto, and this year was no different, with last week’s ticket sales showing week-on-week declines at nearly every production on the boards.

Among those fighting the tide was Main Stem tyro “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” ($657,804), which bowed with a full week of previews and played to auds that averaged about 79% of capacity. Tuner is one of a slew of new productions of musicals working to carve a niche for itself in an unusually crowded spring, including “The Book of Mormon” ($604,594 for seven previews), which played to an encouraging 95% of capacity, and revival “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” ($624,842 for seven).

Among previewing plays, “Arcadia” ($321,143) added coin by bumping up to a seven-preview week while John Leguizamo solo outing “Ghetto Klown” ($328,933) held at six perfs. “That Championship Season” ($549,219), which opened Sunday, was off thanks in part to its heavily comped opening night.

Overall, declines were irresistable, with a lot of the larger-scale musicals posting the steepest drops. “Mary Poppins” ($658,483), “Rain” ($334,521) and “La Cage aux Folles” ($277,675) were each off by about a third vs. the previous sesh, while the plummet at “American Idiot” (down about $900,000 to $395,275) was exacerbated by the exit the prior frame of B.O. draw (and Green Day frontman) Billie Joe Armstrong.

But really, drops of $100,000 — or, in several cases, $200,000 or $300,000 — were almost commonplace last week.

Among the likely culprits is the fact the frame fell between the annual Presidents Day uptick and the nice boosts that usually come along later in March, when spring breaks hit and tourism climbs.In many years, this past week is often the final really tough one of the winter. So the Street can likely look ahead to sales rising with the spring temperatures, not to mention with the new coin to be added to the pot once the spring additions have all begun performances.

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