The news is good again on Broadway, which officially ended the 2015-2016 season with another record in attendance and grosses — a slight but reassuring upturn from last year’s impressive numbers.
Statistics released Monday by the Broadway League are not the dramatic ones of the previous season, when grosses rose 7.6 percent and attendance was up 7.3 percent.
Still, the box office tallied $1,373,253,725, up 0.6 percent from $1,365,232,182, which again gives producers more than a billion reasons to celebrate after the season, which officially ended Sunday.
And though the league does not separate out the impact of the phenomenal hit “Hamilton” on attendance, the rise of 1.6 percent to 13.32 million means the season again topped attendance of the 10 professional New York and New Jersey sports teams combined. The number of bodies in the seats has gone up 15.1 percent in just three seasons.
Surprisingly, given the mindboggling price of tickets for “Hamilton,” the average paid admission went down slightly from $104.18 to $103.11, the first decrease in recorded history.
Explaining the three years of audience growth, Charlotte St. Martin, president of the league, said “With the diversity of shows on stage, we are giving theatergoers what they want. The variety of musicals and plays—revivals and new shows—reiterates that there is something playing for everyone.”
As fine as the season has been — and few could argue with the high quality and the rich diversity — just four shows were sold out last week: “Hamilton,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Waitress” and “Shuffle Along.” Encouragingly, three of the four are new this season. Last year at this time, however, 11 had sold out and seven were new.
Similarly eight productions grossed $1 million or more last week — “Hamilton,” “Wicked,” “Aladdin,” “The Book of Mormon,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “On your Feet!, and “Beautiful.” Two, “Hamilton” and “On Your Feet!” opened this season. In comparison, 13 grossed over $1 million in the same week last year and six were new. In both years, only “The Lion King” broke $2 million.
“From fighting duels to baking pies, from blood-curdling thrillers to fables of everlasting life,” said St. Martin about the unusually wide variety of theater, the season’s events, “this has been a truly extraordinary season on Broadway and the talent is exhilarating. The season’s stories have been enhanced onstage with dancing the conga, playing the fiddle, banjo picking, tapping, rapping and verse.
“Whether seeing stories about the human experience or happily being entertained, there is nothing in the world like live theater and I’m thrilled that audiences agree.”
The season had 39 new productions — 16 musicals (11 new, five revivals), 20 plays (9 new, 11 revivals) and three specials.
The Tony Awards will be telecast June 12 on CBS.