New shows, school breaks boost pot

Broadway put some spring back in its step in Week 41 (March 5-11), as a seasonal rise in sales helped the Main Stem recover from a tough frame the prior week.

Box office usually begins to gain steam at around this time of year, boosted by the rolling cycle of academic spring breaks and shows that begin perfs now in advance of the Tony eligibility cutoff in late April. Individual productions across the board benefitted this week, with only three shows off from the previous frame.

So far the spring’s previewing productions are looking good, as the revival “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” ($614,511) joined the fray and pulled in solid numbers with the help of a cast including James Earl Jones and Candice Bergen. Also logging encouraging totals were a seven-perf week for Philip Seymour Hoffman- topliner “Death of a Salesman” (down a bit to $620,444) as well as the first full sesh of eight previews for “Jesus Christ Superstar” ($614,299), playing to 93% capacity.

A couple of last spring’s musical offerings, “Sister Act” ($553,290) and “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” ($519,327), continued to have trouble turning heads, with each playing to houses only a bit more than half full; it remains to be seen whether the incoming star of “Sister Act,” Raven-Symone, will boost biz. “Godspell” ($289,607) also remained modest.

Overall Broadway sales climbed $1.7 million to $18.6 million for the 26 shows on the boards. Attendance rose by 13,000 to 205,996.

The 19 musicals grossed $15,147,047 for 81.5% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 116,412 and an average paid admission of $91.02.

The seven plays grossed $3,438,098 for 18.5% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 39,584 and an average paid admission of $86.86.

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