‘Play’ what is shut

Follows 'Frog' out of post-Tony hopper

The week before the Tonys, Broadway did its usual wait-and-see at the box office.

Only “Frog and Toad” jumped the gun last week and posted closing notice for Sunday. Now comes word that “The Play What I Wrote” will also shutter this Sunday after 27 previews and 89 regular performances. Nominated for best special event, the British laffer saw its last hope for a B.O. rescue go out the door when the Tony went to the already closed “Def Poetry Jam.”

In the second week of the 2003-04 Broadway season, receipts for 28 productions came to $13,869,113, up $572,875 or 4.27% from the previous week. Paid attendance remained steadier, at 215,226.

Only four shows declined, including “The Play What I Wrote” ($163,325), which fell $29,520. Down, $5,719, “Frog and Toad” ($142,265) also continued its B.O. slide. The other two retreaters were “Cabaret” ($285,343), nearly at low ebb, and “Say Goodnight, Gracie” ($80,348).

They said it couldn’t be done, but a play recorded the highest average-price ticket on Broadway. Up $31,495, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($634,673) charged $85.52, up more than 50¢ from what “Hairspray” ($981,570) got. “Hairspray” producers put their day-after Tony jolt at plus-$500,000. “Journey” producers reported a doubling of sales ($150,000 to $175,000) on Monday. Not bad for shows that are already performing at or near capacity.

‘Master’ has momentum

Plays not written by Eugene O’Neill were also looking sprightly. Growing $66,973, “Master Harold” ($233,096) looked strong coming out of its heavily comped opening week. There were also nice five-figure jumps for “Enchanted April” ($163,707), “Life (x) 3” ($250,603) and “Take Me Out” ($244,880), which zoomed up $58,088. Producers of the Richard Greenberg play reported a quadrupling of sales the day after its big Tony win.

In its penultimate week, “Salome” ($432,519) put in its best session to date thanks to a minor uptick of $1,260.

Under the Top 10, gains for the musicals ran the gamut from the $2,828 bump for “Chicago” ($553,674) to the $92,768 school’s-out splurge for “Beauty and the Beast” ($482,917). In between were the five-figure increases for “Aida” ($543,971), “La Boheme” ($519,526), “Man of La Mancha” ($498,613), “Phantom of the Opera” ($558,659) and “Urinetown” ($263,843).

Benanti goes Greenberg

At the Tony Awards, Todd Haimes announced that Antonio Banderas had reupped his “Nine” contract at least until November. Other thesps in the Tony-winning revival are in negotiations.

“Nine” star Laura Benanti, however, won’t be staying with the show. She and Scott Foley (“Felicity”) go into the Robert Sean Leonard starrer “The Violet Hour” by Greenberg. Previews begin in October at the Biltmore.

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