UK ‘Producers’ claims record gross

West End tuner reaps impressive $1.6 mil

LONDON — “The Producers” is claiming what it believes to be a record weekly West End gross for any London show, following a holiday stand ended Jan. 1 that added up to a huge £842,773.50 — or around $1.6 million at current (hefty) exchange rates.

Show did 10 perfs in six days that week at the 2,206-seat Theater Royal, Drury Lane. That goes some way toward explaining the figure at a venue where a single perf at capacity can gross between £81,000 and £84,000 ($152,000-$157,000).

The previous week, “The Producers” did six shows, so as to average an eight-perf week across the two-week period, as per the West End and Broadway norm.

Sum is particularly impressive since the show still charges only £49 ($92) a top ticket — well below the £55 ($103) top levied by such upcoming West End tuners as “Guys and Dolls.” “Acorn Antiques,” opening Feb. 10, is pricier still.

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“The Producers’ ” figure was achieved without the benefit of its acclaimed co-star Nathan Lane, who played his last London perf Dec. 23 before departing the production almost two weeks early due to back problems. (Understudy Cory English went on for Lane, whose role now is being filled by Lane’s Broadway replacement, Brad Oscar.)

The absences seem not to have affected attendance at the theater, which has gone clean regardless. It no doubt helps that Lane’s co-star, popular Brit Lee Evans, has so far not missed a show since the musical began London previews Oct. 22.

“Producers” currently has an advance “in excess of £5 million” (nearly $10 million), per London’s Clear Channel director of marketing, Crispin Ollington, who provided the hypothetically record gross to Daily Variety.

Such records are harder to substantiate in London than on Broadway, where producers are traditionally far more open about the financial positions of their shows. West End impresarios have never regularly released weekly grosses, preferring to parcel out the information on a case-by-case basis. Or, in the case of “Mary Poppins,” not at all.

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In other West End news, the upcoming London revival of “Guys and Dolls” has at last got its Nathan Detroit: English theater and TV name Douglas Hodge (“Middlemarch”). Last seen onstage in the Royal Court preem of Joe Penhall’s “Dumb Show,” Hodge will appear opposite Broadway Tony winner Jane Krakowski and Ewan McGregor in the new staging of the Frank Loesser tuner.

Previews start May 19 in advance of a June 1 opening at the Piccadilly; Michael Grandage directs.