The Broadway industry will wrap up the 1997-98 season with record-breaking numbers in attendance and box office, according to recent projections from the League of American Theatres and Producers, the national organization of Broadway theatre owners, producers, operators and presenters.
If the season continues along at its present clip, Broadway theatres should see a final total of 11.3 million theatregoers pass through its doors. That would represent a 7.4 percent jump from last season's 10.6 million attendees. What's more, Broadway will have packed in those people into only 30 shows, compared to the 37 productions which opened during the 1996-97 season.
The previous record for attendance was set during the 1980-81 season, when 11.1 million people took in a Broadway show.
The league has also predicted box office receipts in the amount of $545 million, a 9.2 percent increase over 1996-97's $499 million figure.
Though this season has seen the unveiling of two new Broadway theatres -- the restored New Amsterdam Theatre and Livent's Ford Center for the Performing Arts -- the league attributed the increase in audience and monies not to the new houses, but rather to greater number of overall playing weeks. Also: 1997-98 will boast 1,451 playing weeks -- weeks in which a theatre was occupied by a show -- whereas 1996-97 touted only 1,348. Official figures will be revealed by the league in mid-June.
-- By Robert Simonson