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Broadway attendance, box office hits record highs this year

Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer in "Finding Neverland."

Matthew Morrison and Kelsey Grammer in "Finding Neverland." Credit: Carol Rosegg

Broadway producers have more than a billion reasons to celebrate after the holiday weekend, which officially ended the 2014-15 year Sunday. According to statistics released Tuesday by the Broadway League, commercial theater grossed a record $1,365,232,182, up 7.6 percent from last year.

Perhaps more meaningful than the grosses, which reflect soaring ticket prices and the exploding price of so-called premium seats, a record number of people also attended a Broadway show. Attendance figures are up 7.3 percent from last season and 13.3 from the 2012-13 season.

Despite the bitter winter and a snowstorm that closed most theaters for a night or more, the producers' trade association claims that more people went to Broadway than attended the 10 professional New York and New Jersey sports teams combined.

Explaining the historic numbers, Charlotte St. Martin, president of the league, said, "We're giving theatergoers what they want, including a variety of musicals and plays, recognizable brands and new shows. We have stars, we have kids, we have some of the best ensemble casts ever on Broadway."

Among the 11 shows that sold out last week, just four -- "The Lion King," "The Book of Mormon," "Aladdin" and "Beautiful" -- are holdovers from previous years. Extraordinarily, the rest -- "An American in Paris," "Fun Home," "Fish in the Dark," "Skylight," "On the Twentieth Century," "The Audience" and "The King and I" -- are new this season.

Of the 13 shows that grossed $1 million last week, six were new productions: "An American in Paris," "Finding Neverland," "Fish in the Dark," "Something Rotten!" "The Audience" and "The King and I." "The Lion King" is the only show that broke $2 million.

"The upward trend in audience growth continues and it's no surprise," St. Martin said. "While we've been saying for several years now that there is something for everyone on Broadway, to have audience growth of over 13 percent in two years clearly proves our point."

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