Back-to-school comes early on Broadway

'Addams' and most of Rialto off last week

Anyone who doubted how valuable topliner Nathan Lane is to “The Addams Family” got a wakeup call last week: Ticket sales for the Broadway tuner plummeted 32% — more than $350,000 — with the thesp out on vacation.

Of course, whether that drop for “Addams” ($764,231) is a harbinger of its B.O. fortunes once Lane departs the show for good remains to be seen.

The strong appeal of “Addams” has the potential to endure if goosed with the right replacement cast. Legiters will be watching the “Addams” B.O. the week ending Oct. 3, when co-star Bebe Neuwirth takes a vacation.

In general, it looked like some of the back-to-school slump that hits Broadway every fall, usually felt most severely after Labor Day, arrived a bit early this year, with total sales falling by $2 million to $16.1 million for 21 shows on the boards.

Nearly every production posted declines. Only a few of those drops were remarkable, with “Mary Poppins” ($920,251) — lately the beneficiary of a summertime wave of reinvigorated box office — falling below $1 million for the first time in several weeks.

Green Day punk-opera “American Idiot” ($610,478), one of the Main Stem offerings most likely to attract the student-aged auds now going back to school, was off by close to $100,000.

The two shows to post upticks this week were “A Little Night Music” ($596,663), continuing the upward trajectory launched by the replacement cast’s strong reviews earlier this summer, and “Promises, Promises” ($985,433), recovering a bit after a dip the prior frame prompted in part by the weekend absence of co-star Kristin Chenoweth.

Overall Broadway attendance for the week dropped by about 20,000 to 183,587. That’s about on par with attendance logged during the same week in 2009, but seems a bit grimmer when comparing total capacity, which was about 79% this year vs. 86% last year.

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