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Broadway shows lure all-time high of 11.5 million

SHARE Broadway shows lure all-time high of 11.5 million

Attendance at Broadway shows hit an all-time high of 11.5 million during the season that just ended, according to figures released Tuesday by the League of American Theaters and Producers.

The 1997-98 season, which closed with the presentation of the Tony Awards on Sunday night at Radio City Music Hall, also saw a 12 percent increase in box-office grosses to $558 million, said Jed Bernstein, the league's executive director.Part of the reason for the increases was the inauguration of three new Broadway theaters: the New Amsterdam Theater, where Walt Disney Co. opened "The Lion King" in December; the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, where Livent opened "Ragtime" in January, and the Kit Kat Klub in the revamped Henry Miller Theater, where the Roundabout Theater Company opened its revival of "Cabaret" in March.

Another contributing factor was that Broadway theaters were used more often than they had been in the previous season, a total of 1,442 weeks compared with 1,347 the season before. The 1997-98 season saw 33 shows open in Broadway theaters, the league said.

Producers for the biggest Tony winners said they had experienced surges in ticket sales following the ceremony. "Lion King" drew six awards, including one for best new musical, while "Ragtime," "Cabaret" and "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" all won four.

But other shows, which failed to win awards, have decided to close. Producers of "The Diary of Anne Frank" and the musical "1776," both revivals, announced Tuesday that they would close after Sunday's performances. "Honour," a new play starring Jane Alexander, announced on Monday that it would also close on Sunday.

"It's been a battle," said Stewart Lane, one of the producers of "1776." "We fought the good fight."