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Broadway productions have holiday success

Family, religious-themed Broadway productions have holiday success

By Kristina LaFountain

Broadway gross ticket sales increased dramatically for the week ending April 8, with sales up $4 million (17.5%) from the previous week, mostly due to Easter weekend earnings.

Gross ticket sales for the Great White Way totaled just under $28 million, according to figures posted by The Broadway League. Not counting the five new productions that opened last week — "A Streetcar Named Desire," ($309,488) "Leap of Faith," ($190,997) "One Man, Two Guvnors," ($262,614) "The Columnist," ($159,476) and "The Lyons" ($48,615) — 25 of the 39 currently running productions increased in ticket sales.

Broadway newcomer "Peter and the Starcatcher " had the biggest growth with sales up 90.6% ($273,712) over the previous week ($143,579). With such a dramatic increase, the production almost doubled the sales from the seven preview productions.

Amanda Pekoe, owner and president of The Pekoe Group, a NY–based full service boutique theatrical marketing and advertising company recently spoke with TicketNews via email about what she expects for the new production.

"'Peter and the Starcatcher' started previews on March 28, it is expected that sales will increase once a show begins performances," said Pekoe. "The show is really excellent and people are talking about it, so there is wonderful word-of-mouth marketing for the production. Additionally with Spring Break I would imagine that lovers of Peter Pan will flock to buy tickets to this show."

"Death of a Salesman" had the second highest increase in ticket sales with earnings up 87.8% ($859,448) over seven performances. Sales for the production took a big dip ($457,568, down 41%) the previous week, which ended April 1, because of the show's shortened performance schedule due to star Andrew Garfield's promotional commitments for his upcoming film, "The Amazing Spider-Man." With a full schedule of shows, "Death of Salesman" was able to rebound nicely from the previous week.

According to Broadway.com, "Death of a Salesman" broke the house record for attendance at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, which it had previously set during the show's run. Pekoe believes that the production will continue to have a successful run.

"There is a such great buzz about 'Death of a Salesman,' it's definitely one of the hot shows of the season on Broadway. It's a familiar title and people want to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in this role," said Pekoe in an email to TicketNews.

The holiday week was also good for family-favorites like "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," "The Lion King," and "Wicked" which all broke the $2 million mark over the weekend. "Mary Poppins" also had a successful week with sales up 49.6% ($1.4 million) over the previous week's sales.

"Spring Break is a great time for theatre, especially family-friendly Broadway musicals. Schools are out of session for the holidays and families are in NYC, plus the weather is beautiful," said Pekoe. "This all adds to Broadway ticket sales increases."

According to CBSNews.com, "The Lion King" recently surpassed "The Phantom of the Opera" as the highest grossing Broadway show of all time. The production has earned more than $850 million during its 15–year run on Broadway. Surprisingly, "Phantom of the Opera" started on Broadway nearly 10 years prior to "The Lion King," but higher average ticket prices and a larger theater helped the show to pull ahead.

Religious–themed shows also enjoyed an increase in sales due to the Easter holiday — sales for "Jesus Christ Superstar" were up 20.6% ($904,660) and "Sister Act" earned $860,625, up 13.2%. ""The Book of Mormon" experienced a 7.1% increase ($1.6 million) in ticket sales and broke the house record for attendance at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, according to Broadway.com.

Despite a boom for Broadway as a whole, ""Seminar" experienced a 58% decrease in sales ($178,977) as actors Jeff Goldblum and Justin Long joined the hit comedy on April 3, replacing Alan Rickman and Hamish Linklater, respectively. Next week's sales will likely be indicative of whether the actors' popularity will be enough to draw crowds.

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