Strike takes bite of Broadway

Open shows feast on Thanksgiving crowds

The strike may have taken a major bite out of Broadway’s traditionally rich Thanksgiving banquet, but the handful of musicals not affected by the work stoppage mopped up serious gravy.

After a judge’s ruling allowed performances to resume Friday, “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” drew family crowds back to the darkened St. James Theater. Considering the short time producers had in which to spread the word the curtain would go up again, cracking the $1 million mark in only three days of performances was in itself a considerable achievement. The holiday tuner grossed $1,004,228 during its busy 11-perf schedule.

Producers also announced that Jujamcyn Theaters has agreed not to seek an immediate appeal against the recently granted injunction, allowing perfs of “The Grinch” to continue uninterrupted through its limited engagement. The show is scheduled to run through Jan. 6.

The largest beneficiary of the limited shows playing through the strike, unsurprisingly, was “Young Frankenstein.” While producers of the Mel Brooks spoof musical are not releasing figures, sources peg the show’s grosses for the week ending Nov. 25 north of $1.85 million. If that estimate holds, it will edge out the $1.8 million Christmas 2006 take of “Wicked” for the Broadway record.

While total grosses for the week are dwarfed by the same frame’s $23.4 million bounty last season, this year’s tally of $6,147,987 (including the “Young Frankenstein” estimate) reps an improvement of 24% over the previous week.

Other musicals to benefit from holiday auds starved for choice include Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” which saw a 21% hike in box office, pulling 100% capacity and a $1,356,262 gross; and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” up by 28% to $441,714. “Xanadu” boosted biz by 19%, totaling $460,130.

Continuing the trend during the strike, the lineup of plays showed little improvement. Sole exception was the Roundabout’s “Pygmalion” revival, which climbed by 22% to $330,699.

Still in previews, Lincoln Center’s “Cymbeline” dropped by 18% to $205, 306, due largely to the absence of a Thanksgiving day perf, while “The Ritz” remained steady at $300,918, and Manhattan Theater Club’s “Mauritius” received no jump in audience interest during its final week, falling by 22% to $198,730.

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