Auds dim B’way B.O. lights

Only 'Gathering,' 'Invention' improve

After posting its second-best session of the season, Broadway fell a sizable $1,235,133 — or 7.4% — to land at $15,299,731 last week. Only seven of the 37 shows now on the boards bucked the downward trend. Several faltering productions appear to be hanging on for possible Tony Award nominations (to be announced May 7), with total B.O. significantly below its $16,691,274 of a year ago when one fewer show graced Broadway.

“The Producers” saw one of the week’s rare five-figure upticks, increasing $95,290 after the previous week of heavily comped perfs. It closed with $962,686, just under the $998,922 of current champ, “The Lion King.” The Disney musical gained $922 over the previous week.

In previews, “42nd Street” rose $26,171 to finish with $494,262 on a gross potential of $631,182. The revival opens Wednesday.

Pop star Aaron Carter returned to “Seussical,” which grew $38,533 to sprout a final $524,258 on its $755,427 potential.

“Annie Get Your Gun” with Reba McEntire bettered its third-best session ever last week, up $5,356 to close with $795,533. Weeks one and two for the tuner came in November and June 1999, respectively, when Bernadette Peters starred.

Gathering steam

“The Gathering” and “Invention of Love” were the only plays to improve. Doing a split week of five perfs and three previews, “The Gathering” gathered an additional $7,992 to finish with $93,958 on its far grander gross potential of $429,063. The Tom Stoppard drama rose modestly, up $1,621, to close with $237,027 on its $404,321 potential. It played at 84.75% capacity with its average ticket at $38.58. For a show doing regular-perf duty, only “Judgment at Nuremberg” charged less, its average ticket going for $34.49.

What does a Pulitzer Prize do for your box office? “Proof” grabbed the big one on April 16, but B.O. retreated $11,645 nonetheless. Then again, without a Pulitzer “The Dinner Party” and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” sank even more, down $50,639 and $15,284, respectively. The newly opened “Stones in His Pockets” also took a hit, down $19,971, finishing with $258,598 on a gross potential of $361,622. It played to 89.54% with its average ticket at $44.90, somewhat less than what’s being charged for the longer running “Proof” ($53.23), “Party” ($50.54) and “Wife” ($48.53).

At $54.39, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” took the prize for highest average ticket on a play. The Gary Sinise-starrer dropped $43,518, closing with $369,567 on its $509,780 potential. It played to 81.67% cap.

Otherwise, much of the week’s B.O. slide could be attributed to six-figure slumps at such musicals as “Kiss Me, Kate” (down $114,459), “Les Miserables” (down $100,205), “The Music Man” (down $122,475) and “The Phantom of the Opera” (down $158,598).

So much for the new $100 top on “The Producers.” Tuners like “Blast!,” “A Class Act” and “Riverdance” had average prices in the $41 to $42 range, with “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at $27.07 for its heavily comped week of three previews and five regular perfs.

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