×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

West End logs record sales

Attendance down a bit in 2011

London box office hit a record high in 2011 for the eighth year in a row, according to the official figures newly published by the Society of London Theater (SOLT).

Total revenues reached £528,375,874 ($839 million), up 3% increase on 2010 figures and topping £500 million for the third time ever. Some of the rise is attributable to the raising of VAT (U.K. sales tax) from 17.5% to 20% of gross; without it the increase is about 1%.

Attendance, however, did not rise along with revenue. Although average attendance per performance was up 10 tickets from last year to reach 770, attendance overall dipped around 2% to a 13,915,185 total across 52 houses, both commercial and not-for-profit.The drop is directly attributable to the 146 dark weeks in commercial venues. That unusually high figure reps a steep climb on the 85 dark weeks of 2010. Notably, two of London’s largest houses, the Theater Royal Drury Lane and the London Palladium — with a combined seating capacity of 4,474 — were both closed for several months to facilitate extended load-ins of large-scale shows “Shrek the Musical” and “The Wizard of Oz,” respectively.

“It indicates that a huge investment in new shows has paid off,” said SOLT prexy Mark Rubinstein. “At a time when people are obviously being careful with their money, it shows we all still want to be entertained by live theater.”

Last year was a good one for plays. SRO runs of “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Jerusalem,” “Richard III” with Kevin Spacey, “Yes, Prime Minister,” “The Ladykillers,” “Frankenstein,” “Noises Off,” “One Man, Two Guvnors” (at both the National and in the West End) and a further year of “War Horse” contributed to a revenue rise of 10% (with an attendance boost of 2%) for plays. Tuner revenue climbed 1% to £328,813,525 ($516 million), albeit with a 3% drop in attendance due to the dark weeks.

Performances in other categories — opera, dance, performance, entertainment — saw revenue up 1% to £81,720,277 ($128 million) with a 4% drop in attendance.

Although the U.K. is undergoing a slowdown in economic growth amid fears of a double-dip recession, Rubinstein remains confident about the future.

“The first quarter of 2011 was actually down 11%, but then things improved,” he said. “Attendances for the final quarter of 2011 were 4% up on the previous year and remain so for the first two weeks of this year. Aside from the first two weeks of last year, advances in 2011 consistently outstripped 2010, and they remain just as high.”

More Legit

  • CAROL CHANNING HERSCHFELD. Actress Carol Channing

    Remembering Carol Channing: A Master of Channeling the Power of Personality

    There was only one Carol Channing, and her outsize personality was a source of delight to many fans — and imitators. Gerard Alessandrini’s stage spoof “Forbidden Broadway” had many incarnations over the years, including the 1994 edition when an audience member was selected every evening to come onstage and impersonate Carol Channing with the cast. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Celebrities Remembering Carol Channing

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters are among the slew of celebrities taking to Twitter to pay tribute to late singer, comedienne and actress Carol Channing. Known for her starring roles in Broadway’s “Hello Dolly!” and “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” the legend of the stage and screen died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, [...]

  • What the Constitution Means to Me

    Listen: How Things Got Scary in 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    For a decade, writer-performer Heidi Schreck had wanted to write a play inspired by her experiences as a teen debater. But over the years the show started to develop into something both urgently political and deeply personal — and things got scary. In the Broadway-bound “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Schreck reimagines her speech-and-debate [...]

  • Carol Channing Dead

    Carol Channing, Star of Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!' and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' Dies at 97

    Larger-than-life musical stage personality Carol Channing, who immortalized the characters of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!,” has died. She was 97. Channing died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Her publicist B. Harlan Boll confirmed the news. He wrote, “It is with [...]

  • 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    'What the Constitution Means to Me' Transfers to Broadway

    “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a buzzy Off-Broadway production that counts Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem among its fans, is making the move uptown. The play will come to Broadway this spring for a 12-week limited run at the Helen Hayes Theater. “What the Constitution Means to Me” is one part civics lesson, one [...]

  • Choir Boy review

    Broadway Review: 'Choir Boy'

    Honestly, I was afraid that “Choir Boy” — the sweetly exuberant account of a gifted prep school boy’s coming of age, written by “Moonlight” Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney — would be swallowed up in a Broadway house, after winning us over in an Off Broadway staging in 2013.  But aside from the odd set [...]

  • Jason Robert Brown

    Listen: How Ariana Grande Got Jason Robert Brown to Madison Square Garden

    Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown never expected to find himself performing onstage at Madison Square Garden. But he did — thanks to his pal Ariana Grande. Brown met Grande before she was a superstar, when she was in the 2008 Broadway cast of his teen musical “13.” The two have kept in touch ever since [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content