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Broadway has reason to give thanks

Despite upswing, B.O. falls short of recent turkey weeks

Thanksgiving lifted Broadway out of its B.O. funk as 33 shows brought in $17,364,990, up $3,476,111, or 25.03%, over the previous lackluster session.

The total tally, however, falls short of recent turkey weeks. Last year, 34 shows produced $18.92 million, and in 2002 the holiday week drew $18.64 million for 33. The paid attendance numbers show an even greater gap. Last week’s 242,173 compares to 260,627 in 2003 and 266,425 in 2002.

While Broadway set no record, a couple of its shows did: “Wicked” ($1,274,459) and “Avenue Q” ($520,331) set house records at their respective theaters, the Gershwin and the Golden. With the least amount of room to grow, the “Wizard of Oz” redux increased its gross by $62,384. Every other show in the top 10 saw six-figure jumps, with “Beauty and the Beast” ($910,981) gaining the most, up $371,903.

There were some equally big bumps down below. Under the top 10, “Bombay Dreams” ($604,657) expanded $203,825, while “Wonderful Town” ($645,033) and “Rent” ($449,311) experienced upticks of $140,338 and $142,864, respectively.

The holidays are always a good time to take Broadway’s pulse. Three long-running shows were up marginally from Thanksgiving 2003. In addition to “Beauty and the Beast,” the hardy trio included “The Producers” ($996,051) and “The Phantom of the Opera” ($876,865). “The Lion King” ($1,273,922), “42nd Street” (861,880) and “Rent” saw more improvement, with each up six figures.

Down slightly from turkey day 2003 were “Mamma Mia!” ($1,055,172), “Hairspray” ($990,848), “Movin’ Out” ($778,557) and “Chicago” ($592,763),

New musicals had a tougher time. Although “Brooklyn” ($366,689) and “Dracula” ($310,572) experienced respective climbs of $25,446 and $71,449, their capacity numbers remained unspectacular at 71.4% and 59.4%.

New revivals also looked less than plump. “La Cage aux Folles” ($549,169) played to 74.9% capacity, its gross up only $8,319. “Pacific Overtures” ($328,926) slipped $3,436 but had the good excuse of critics’ comps. The revival opens Thursday.

Plays don’t always share in the bounty of Thanksgiving. And to prove that point, ” ‘Night Mother” ($153,438) tumbled $39,321, performing at 31.7% capacity.

Elsewhere, the straight species improved: “Democracy” ($428,179), up $72,067; “Reckless” ($259,477), up $32,239; and “Twelve Angry Men” ($341,077), up $17,254.

Solo acts were also a mixed bag.

Down $18,633, “Laugh Whore” ($138,597) could blame its dip on one fewer perf. Mario Cantone did a reduced six.

Out sick Saturday, Billy Crystal also saw less action and 85,786 fewer dollars, performing only five perfs of “700 Sundays” ($549,690).

Off $26,143, “The Good Body” ($76,952) played to only 27.5% capacity.

However, “Dame Edna” ($382,739) and “Whoopi” ($226,969) made use of the holiday, up $99,539 and $37,721, respectively. Up $11,810, “Golda’s Balcony” ($118,444) also gained ground.

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