B’way finds it tough to gather nuts in Feb.

Receipts down 7% from previous week

NEW YORK — Broadway receipts of $10,449,494 for the final week of February were down 7% from the previous week, ending on a sour note what traditionally is one of the slowest theater months of the year.

The February downslide was particularly hard on shows struggling to break even. From Feb. 23 to Sunday, Paul Simon’s “The Capeman” dropped by more than $70,000 from the previous week, taking in $404,690 at the box office. The troubled musical has a potential of $784,593.

“Capeman” producers have vowed to hang tough at least until Tony Award nominations are announced in May. A nod for Simon’s score could be used in advertising to boost sales.

Another middling musical, “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” was hit by the February doldrums, slipping by more than $8,000 from the previous week to $378,701, less than half the “Scarlet” potential ($832,827).

“Art,” the hit London play, sold at about 75% of its capacity, a solid figure (at a low average ticket price of $38.78) for the critic-heavy pre-opening week. The play, starring Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina, opened to good reviews Sunday, and box office should register an upswing this week.

Most of the Broadway lineup reported downturns at the box office last week, though the impact on the strongest shows was modest. “Ragtime” for example, still pulled in more than $800,000, selling nearly 95% of its seats, while “The Lion King” was SRO with $798,182. “Chicago,” John Leguizamo’s one-man-show “Freak,” “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Rent” and “Titanic” all sold in excess of 90% capacity, as did “The Deep Blue Sea” at the subscription-based Roundabout Theater.

On the lower end of the spectrum, “Jackie: An American Life,” closed its four-month run at the Belasco Theater, up $12,558 over the previous week to $127,824, but still filling only about half of its seats. David Mamet’s “The Old Neighborhood” sold even fewer tickets (41% of capacity) and registered only $85,004 at the B.O. The $60,000 drop in receipts was easily explained: Star Patti LuPone performed only four of the play’s eight shows due to a previously scheduled engagement.

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