‘Night Music’ fights trend

Post-holiday slump hits most other Broadway shows

The annual post-holiday plunge hit Broadway last week, with total sales dropping by about $10 million and four shows playing their final perfs Sunday.

Overall box office fell $9.3 million to $18.8 million. That’s a big dip — but it’s not as if it was an unexpected one. Every year, the bonanza brought by the holiday tourist influx is followed by the shock that occurs when all those visitors return home.

The surprises, then, came in the shows that held up unexpectedly well. Take, for instance, “A Little Night Music.”

The tuner toplined by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury may have slipped out of the millionaire’s club last week but it still grossed $960,594, a hearty sum for the relatively small Walter Kerr Theater. Average paid admission was a robust $129.50, the highest reported on the Street.

The revival of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler tuner received mixed reviews, but so far interest both in the starry cast and in the well-known title has led to potent B.O. for the show.

An imminent closing often helps drum up crowds, and among the few shows to log gains last week was one play that closed Sunday, “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” ($295,615), and another — Carrie Fisher’s solo outing “Wishful Drinking” ($320,709) — on its way to a Jan. 17 shuttering.

Also closing before the long, cold winter sets in were “Burn the Floor” ($564,267), “The 39 Steps” ($201,125) and “Ragtime” ($591,131). The latter was originally slated to close Jan. 3 but held on another week thanks to a surge in last-minute biz.

Among other new tuner productions of the season, “Fela!” ($603,358) was off by about $235,000 (or 28%), but, given the steep downward trend of the week and the fact that it’s a new title that could still gain box office momentum, it seemed to be holding relatively steady.

Finian’s Rainbow” ($601,132) also showed decent staying power, although those receipts were likely helped by the fact that the show shutters Jan. 17 after posting middling-at-best sales since its fall opening.

Overall, box office drops at individual productions tended to range between 25% and 45%, with the biggest declines coming at the tourist-attracting crowdpleasers most likely to benefit from holiday traffic.

West Side Story” ($884,336) took one of the heftiest falls of the frame, sinking by $600,000, while “Wicked” ($1,539,959), “Mamma Mia!” (814,674), “The Phantom of the Opera” ($794,065) and “Mary Poppins” ($736,235) slid by more than $500,000 each.

Previewing “A View from the Bridge” ($520,676) and “Race” ($464,026) were the top two plays of the sesh, with “God of Carnage” ($420,108) down by a significant 26%.

Overall attendance fell by about 45,000 theatergoers to 227,045, which, compared to last year at this time, wasn’t so bad. The same frame in 2009 saw attendance sink by 75,000 to 204,876. Total capacity lst week was 81% vs. the 73% logged last year.

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