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Broadway Box Office: Plays Get A Little Love

In a Broadway box office frame when many musicals saw shrinkage following a long-weekend holiday, plays stood out as the shows gaining momentum, with productions including “King Charles III” and “Therese Raquin” kicking into gear.

King Charles III” ($470,530 for seven), pictured above, stepped up to a seven-preview week and played to houses at 87% of capacity, which seems pretty solid for a U.K.-centric London hit in advance of reviews (which, to judge from the critical reception across the pond, could be quite good). Meanwhile, the Roundabout Theater Company’s nonprofit production of “Therese Raquin” ($401,296), starring Keira Knightley, played its first full eight-performance week.

Also on the rise last week were Clive Owen starrer “Old Times” (rising 20% to $426,702) and “Fool for Love” (boosted 38% to $363,115), two plays stepping up in the wake of their opening nights the prior week. “The Gin Game” ($344,764), with Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones, also upticked a bit, despite the fact that the production accommodated press performances and its opening night last week.

The year-old “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” ($737,748) also climbed a bit, suggesting that plays get a little breathing room in the fall to attract the attention of local audiences and theater-avid visitors, particularly during weeks when the razzledazzle-seeking holiday tourists aren’t as dominant.

Among new additions to the boards, “Allegiance” ($468,111 for seven) played one fewer performance than it did during its first week of previews, while “Dames at Sea” ($203,830), heading into its Oct. 22 opening night, continued to languish at the bottom of the chart.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, “The Lion King” ($1,932,132), “Wicked” ($1,720,707) and “Aladdin” ($1,558,094) took up spots at the head of the class, with “The Book of Mormon” ($1,497,673) and “Hamilton” ($1,478,877) not far behind.

Although the majority of individual titles slowed, Broadway’s cumulative sales slipped by a relatively modest $700,000 to $25.3 million for 31 shows on the boards. Attendance actually went up a bit to 249,690 (or 86% of total capacity), with traffic likely attracted by new titles and the lower-priced tickets many of them offer during previews.

Looking ahead, industry types are already dreading the weekend after next, when Halloween, an annual box-office slayer, falls on a Saturday, and it’s followed the very next day by the New York Marathon, which fills up hotel rooms with runners instead of theatergoers. To top it all off, the clocks will change that same day — although the downtick in sales that often comes along with it would likely show up in the following week’s grosses, rather than sales for the week ending Nov. 1.

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