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National rides high on ‘Horse’

London company logs boffo season box office

LONDON — Productions from London’s National Theater reached 2.3 million people worldwide in a boffo 2011-2012 season.

Under a.d. Nicholas Hytner, attendances at the NT’s three-stage South Bank home averaged 92% across 23 productions including 12 world premieres. The West End transfer of “War Horse” at the New London Theater played to 99% capacity.

That led to a record income of £80 million ($129 million), more than double that of ten years ago. Fifty-six percent of that figure was box office receipts at its home and on tour in the West End and internationally, while 23% was government funding via Arts Council England. The high income figure was achieved despite the legit stronghold’s policy of low ticket prices in order to increase access. Some 87,000 people bought £12 ($19) tickets for plays sponsored by Travelex; the most expensive shows in the current rep at its home venue have a top of £47 ($86).

From revivals to world premieres, the NT gave 1,746 perfs in London, employing 526 actors and musicians. “One Man, Two Guvnors” played to capacity audiences at the NT’s Lyttelton theater, in five UK cities on tour, at the West End’s Adelphi Theater and Theatrer Royal Haymarket, and in Gotham where it was seen by a total of 322,000 people during the year. A second UK tour begins this fall, also visiting Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The show also proved the most successful NT Live broadcast to date, seen by 54,000 people worldwide including 32,000 in the UK.

“War Horse” continues its sell-out West End run into a third year and is now booking until October 2013. Lincoln Center Theater’s Broadway production shutters in January, but the title is currently running in Toronto and in a North American road production. Total audiences for the show, which premiered in 2007 have so far reached 2. 4 million people worldwide, with further productions skedded for Australia and Berlin in the coming year, plus a ten-month tour to eight UK cities and Dublin.

Commercial transfers of its productions including “War Horse” and “One Man, Two Guvnors” have generated money that has been designated for the NT Future project, which will see the redevelopment of the theater’s home to increase its facilities. The year ended with a surplus of £300,000 ($485,000).

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