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Steamy summer on Broadway

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NEW YORK --- Forget about grosses, which are fueled by inflated ticket prices. Paid attendance for summer 2005 ended at an impressive 3,485,407, which tops what Broadway was doing pre-9/11 for the first time since 2001.

The number of tickets sold reached 3,237,858 in 2000 and 3,125,613 in 2001. Paid attendance fell below the 3 million mark in 2002 and '03 and rose just above it in 2004.

The summer season runs from early June to Labor Day.

The seven days leading up to Labor Day, however, were not record-setters. Broadway did $14.1 million in 2002 and $13.8 million in 2003. Last week, receipts for 24 shows came to $13,671,140, down an unseasonal $556,459, or 3.91%, from the previous nonholiday session.

Most of the slide could be attributed to the absence of "Glengarry Glen Ross," which shuttered the previous week. But there were significant drops at kiddie shows "Beauty and the Beast" ($533,495) and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" ($576,520), each off more than $50,000 and losing about 9% of its previous tally.

Down $39,282, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" ($423,658) lost a similar 8.5% but played to a cushy 92.3% capacity after several sold-out weeks.

Off a frightful 15.2%, "Lennon" ($257,758) dipped $46,201 to perform at only 41.7% capacity. Not much better was the 43.9% cap for "All Shook Up" ($340,163), which at least had the strength to hold its decrease to $2,494.

Elsewhere under the top 10, other negative blips were seen at "The Light in the Piazza" ($496,458), "Movin' Out" ($394,432) and "Rent" ($387,545).

'Woolf' jumps highest

Up $77,715, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" ($310,905) recorded the week's biggest jump, thanks to its Sunday close. A Sept. 18 shutter date helped to fill some seats at "The Pillowman" ($356,479), which rose $37,643 and played to 92.5%. "Doubt" ($485,260), which at present has no end in sight, slid $16,445 to do 87.2% capacity.

"Sweet Charity" kicked up its heels with a welcome $62,114 boost ($480,260).

Also on the plus side, there were small upticks for "Avenue Q" ($444,702), "Chicago" ($427,016), "Fiddler on the Roof" ($385,845) and "Jackie Mason: Freshly Squeezed" ($94,546).

With not much room to grow, "Wicked" ($1,320,047) continues to sprout new money, setting yet another house record at the Gershwin. And "Monty Python's Spamalot" ($1,023,080) grew a tiny $814.

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