Touring Broadway shows account for more than half of the Broadway theatre industry's box-office gross, said a new study conducted by the League of American Theatres and Producers. During the 1997-1998 season, said the report, fully 15 million tickets were sold to road shows, compared by 11 million in New York tickets.
In recent years, Broadway producers hoping to turn a profit have relied more and more on touring productions of their New York hits. Multiple companies of popular shows like Chicago and Rent crisscross the U.S. and Canada.
According to the study, conducted from the fall of 1997 to the fall of 1998, the audiences are, indeed, there. The average attendee of a touring show -- typically female, middle-aged and with a household income of over $80,000 -- takes in six shows a year. Such theatregoers are not unfamiliar with Broadway, either, one quarter of them attending a New York show sometime during the season.
Perhaps the study's more heartening news for Leagues producers is the marked increase in the regions of young audiences. Over the past seven years, theatregoers under 18 jumped from 163,000 in 1991 to 714,000 in 1998. In addition, the youngsters proved more ethnically diverse than their adult counterparts. League President Jed Bernstein pointed to the figures as proof of the effectiveness of such nationwide, League sponsored events as "Kids' Night on Broadway."
The report, titled "The Audience for Touring Broadway: A Demographic Study," is the first of a planned series of biennial surveys. --By Robert Simonson