Despite a less than stellar fall season, the League of American Theatres and Producers reported today (Dec. 2) that the industry had experienced a boost in business during the first half of the 1998-99 season, which began June 7, 1998.
According to the League, grosses are up to $268.2 million, a 7 percent jump over the same period last year, while attendance is up 3.2 percent to 5.3 million.
League executive director Jed Bernstein predicts that, at this rate, the season would exceed its record 1997-98 season, in which producers took in nearly $580 million.
The new season has seen no clear Broadway successes. The play More to Love quickly closed and Getting and Spending looks iffy past the New Year. Meanwhile, highly anticipated musicals such as Footloose and On the Town experienced less than warm receptions, making their futures uncertain.
Nonetheless, the league figures were not altogether surprising. Broadway is still benefiting from the hits of the past two seasons. The Lion King , Cabaret and Ragtime , as well as the older Chicago and Rent continue to draw near capacity or capacity crowds. Road shows also saw an upturn during the season's first half, with touring grosses up to $362.5 million. That represents a 4.6 percent jump over last years number. Attendance was also up 2.8 percent to 7.5 million. The next six months, the road will see new tours by Titanic , Cabaret and Footloose. -- By Robert Simonson