Box office’s slow climb up

Broadway show attendance rises in small increments

NEW YORK — Broadway box office inched upward in Week 17, recovering from the $3 million tumble it took in the frame after Labor Day.

September is traditionally one of the Rialto’s crueler months, with the back-to-school distractions of the season.

Almost every show on the boards posted an uptick. Biggest of the bunch was at “Fela!” ($463,706), which rose almost $120,000 (or 35%) over the previous sesh, thanks to the added draw of Patti LaBelle.

For a number of productions, individual gains tended toward the $50,000 range or above, with “A Little Night Music” ($606,204) and “La Cage aux Folles” ($530,552) each up by about 15% (or more than $70,000 each) over the prior week. Overall sales rose around $1 million to $16.6 million for 24 shows on the boards.

Still, it wasn’t the Main Stem’s most robust showing. Only three productions — the usual triumvirate of “Wicked” ($1,479,055), “The Lion King” ($1,210,030) and “Jersey Boys” ($1,046,786) — staked out spots in the millionaires’ club, a noticeable step down from the summertime crowd of million-plus earners.

One fall production joined the fray, with “The Pitmen Painters” ($189,291) playing a full week of previews.

The 20 musicals grossed $13,981,876 for 95.7% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 165,237 at 74.8% capacity and average paid admission of $84.62.

The three plays grossed $620,997 for 4.3% of the Broadway total, with attendance of 13,150 at 68.7% capacity and average paid admission of $47.22.

Average paid admission was $81.86 for all shows.