NEW YORK – Things were looking up, including box-office grosses, attendance and, yes, ticket prices, on Broadway in 2005.
Spurred on by strong-performing musicals and plays, Broadway grossed a record $825 million in 2005, a jump from $749 million in 2004, according to figures released Tuesday by the League of American Theatres and Producers.
Attendance also rose, climbing to 11.98 million for 39 shows, up from 11.33 million the previous calendar year when 34 productions opened.
Six months after the Tony Awards, the four shows nominated for best musical are still running and doing more than respectable business. The quartet comprises the winner, "Monty Python's Spamalot," as well as "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and "The Light in the Piazza."
"More hit shows are continuing to run and that fact had a financial impact," said David Stone, producer of "Wicked," a juggernaut from the 2003-04 season that's still doing hefty business.
"While musicals still dominate on Broadway, 2005 was a very strong year for plays, too," said Howard Sherman, executive director of the American Theatre Wing.
Among the potent performers: the Tony-winning "Doubt," "The Pillowman," Billy Crystal's "700 Sundays" and three starry revivals — "Glengarry Glen Ross," with Alan Alda and Liev Schreiber; Julius Caesar" starring Denzel Washington; and Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in "The Odd Couple."
"Of the total audience increase of 650,000 over 2004, according to the League's data, it's important to realize that ticket sales for plays alone were up by 530,000," Sherman said. "That means that four out of every five additional tickets sold this year were for a play. Clearly there is still a place for plays on Broadway, and hopefully this success will result in even more in coming seasons."
Top ticket prices rose beyond the $100 mark, with such popular musicals as "Spamalot," "Wicked," "Mamma Mia!" and more reaching $110 for most of their best seats.
New York's three-day transit strike last week didn't seem to hurt such shows as "Spamalot," "The Lion King," "The Odd Couple" and "Wicked." All four played to 100 percent capacity.
Plays were more affected by the walkout, with such productions as "Souvenir," "Seascape," "Latinlogues" and "A Touch of the Poet" slumping at the box office.