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Quirky ‘Avenue Q’ sees 50% growth

Broadway B.O. rivals last year's records

For only the second session this season, total receipts last week fell below the record levels set a year ago. But don’t shed too many tears for Broadway. Twenty-three productions brought in a healthy $14,453,660, up $572,539 or 4.12% from the previous week, which did set a record for its time frame. Paid attendance came to 214,832, up 3.61%.

This summer, Broadway’s reduced number of shows competes against the $14.76 million tally produced by a whopping 30 productions in 2002. But perked by less competish, there is B.O. power in smaller numbers. Individually, most long-running tuners are doing better biz in 2003.

Under the top 10, the No. 11 slot was occupied last week by “Thoroughly Modern Millie” ($713,680), up $57,338. Never before has a show grossed so much on a non-holiday week and not made the chart.

Summer heats up

Other signs of Broadway’s hot summer temperature: Excluding the week of New Year’s Day, “Mamma Mia!” ($1,043,959) saw its highest-grossing session this year. And only four shows experienced a decrease last week — “Enchanted April” ($153,765), “The Lion King” ($1,126,280), “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” ($675,123) and “Nine” ($776,293) — with each limited to minor three- or four-figure slippage.

Performing at 84.1% capacity, “Avenue Q” ($312,050) sped out of its heavily comped preem week with a big $102,134 jump. A 50% increase is great news, especially for such nontraditional fare as this puppet play.

‘River’ even

Up just $3,784, tuner “Big River” ($258,136) appears to have hit a plateau in its third week out of the box.

Under the top 10, other four-figure upticks were registered by “Say Goodnight, Gracie” ($114,381), “Take Me Out” ($315,567) and “Urinetown” ($306,661). Somewhat heftier five-figure jumps helped “Cabaret” ($367,152), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($697,912), “Rent” ($430,457) and “Chicago” ($692,762), which set a house record at the Ambassador with new star Melanie Griffith.

Excluding “Avenue Q,” “Man of La Mancha” ($580,719) saw the biggest jump, up $74,300 with only three weeks to go in its run.