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‘Mermaid’ fishes up Broadway dough

Previewing musical leaps 40% at box office

Things are going swimmingly for “The Little Mermaid.” In a week when many Broadway offerings began to experience the usual pre-Christmas slide, the previewing Disney tuner jumped by more than $350,000 to hit $1,024,744.

“Mermaid” was forced to delay its Dec. 6 opening by more than a month because of the recent stagehands strike. But as last week’s B.O. indicates, the show, based on the popular 1989 animated pic, never much needed first-night press to boost awareness during the holiday frame. (New opening is set for Jan. 10.)

Playing a whopping 15 perfs last week, “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” ($1,572,719) took hold of the No. 1 slot, with “Wicked” ($1,449,240) close behind in a traditional eight-perf week. (Estimates for “Young Frankenstein,” which does not report grosses, put B.O. at around $1.5 million.)

Among the plays, “Cyrano de Bergerac” ($945,061) continued to rise, hitting numbers more commonly associated with musicals. Rave magnet “August: Osage County” ($406,533) saw box office climb by about $80,000, while “The Seafarer” ($238,604), also buoyed by strong reviews, picked up by more than $100,000.

“The Farnsworth Invention” ($289,972) and “Is He Dead?” ($202,357) also rose, but both struggled to fill houses, each playing to auds of about 55% capacity. Coming off a week that included press perfs and opening night, “The Homecoming” ($165,679) dipped slightly.

Many shows saw decreases last week — often the case in the period preceding the annual Christmas-week boom. Still, some dips were larger than others: “Curtains” ($571,132) fell by nearly $200,000, while “Mamma Mia!” ($783,366) and “Legally Blonde” ($613,438) slid by around $125,000 each and “Jersey Boys” ($1,263,204) and “Mary Poppins” ($973,522) were each off by a bit more than $100,000.

Overall Rialto cume, about $20.5 million for 35 shows on the boards, remained on par with the same sesh last year, although there were 32 productions running at the time.

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