- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — All those delegates to the Republican National Convention didn’t do Broadway box offices much good.

Grosses last week during the GOP festivities at Madison Square Garden were off 20 percent from the same week a year ago and attendance slumped 18 percent, according to figures released Tuesday by the League of American Theatres and Producers.

But then the Aug. 30-Sept. 2 convention was followed by the Labor Day weekend, usually one of the worst times for business on Broadway.

The total weekly gross declined to $10.91 million, down from $13.8 million for the same period a year ago, while attendance slipped to 163,977, down from 201,670 in 2003.

“Last week’s business results, although not surprising, were disappointing for the industry,” league President Jed Bernstein said. “Several shows saw sharp declines.”

Hardest hit were productions that have been struggling all summer, including revivals of “Wonderful Town” and “Fiddler on the Roof” as well as “Golda’s Balcony,” the one-woman show about Golda Meir starring Tovah Feldshuh.

Even several usually potent box-office performers such as “Mamma Mia!” and “The Lion King” slipped a bit, although the latter still took in a hefty $917,339.

There were a few bright spots. “The Boy From Oz,” heading toward Hugh Jackman’s final performance Sept. 12, set another house record at the Imperial Theatre, grossing $1,085,923. Also over the million-dollar mark was “Wicked,” taking in more than $1.2 million. “Avenue Q,” the 2004 Tony winner for best musical, was down from its previous week’s take but still managed to gross $425,084 and play to 87 percent capacity at the small Golden Theatre.

“Happily, the results do little to diminish the strong year-to-date momentum, with which we approach the new season,” Mr. Bernstein said.

Season-to-date attendance for the year is up more than 7 percent, jumping from more than 2.91 million in 2003 to more than 3.12 million so far in 2004. And total grosses have risen, too, climbing from $192,632,683 at this point in 2003 to $205,904,924 thus far this year.

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