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NEW TICKET PRICES PREMIERE ON BROADWAY

Only two new musicals are scheduled for Broadway this fall, but when they open, it will be with a special flourish - of new ticket prices.

The top price for "Show Boat," now in previews and opening Oct. 2 at the Gershwin Theater, will be $75. Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard," which begins previews Nov. 7 and opens at the Minskoff Theater on Nov. 17, will have a top price of $70.This is not news, of course, to the producers of other shows. Prices at several established Broadway musicals are already inching up from the average top of $65.

Representatives of the two new musicals cited "Broadway economics" for the increase: steep start-up costs, hefty weekly operating expenses and the need to return their investors' money within a reasonable amount of time.

Garth Drabinsky, the producer of "Show Boat," which he said is capitalized at about $8.5 million, believes that "the bottom line is there's a cast of 71, an orchestra of 31 and 500 costumes in the show. We're only charging $10 more than every other show on Broadway, and yet `Show Boat' is twice the size of every other show."

The two new musicals offer a range of prices below the top ticket: at each performance of "Show Boat," there will be 320 tickets at $65, 36 tickets at $55 and 118 tickets at $40. (Prices are $10 less at Wednesday matinees.) In addition, 250 tickets a week have been committed to the Theater Development Fund, which will distribute them to its subscribers at $14 each.

At "Sunset Boulevard," 301 tickets will sell for $60 and, on the day of performance, 50 tickets in the last two rows of the theater, reserved for students and senior citizens, will sell for $25 each.

"Pricing is an important issue," said Edgar Dobie, executive vice president and managing director of the Really Useful Theater Company, the producer of "Sunset Boulevard," which is capitalized at $13 million. "We are sensitive to what it costs to see a Broadway show. Look, we didn't do the obvious thing and go to $75."