Broadway hopes "Shrek," "Billy" defy economic woes
By Claudia Parsons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe gets naked, Tom Cruise's wife Katie Holmes does Arthur Miller and cartoon ogre Shrek vies with ballet-dancing Billy Elliot in a battle of the monster musicals.
The new season on Broadway offers plenty for the theater fan, but it is not just fans who keep a close eye on the ups and downs of New York's theater world.
The Broadway League, a trade association, says the 39 Broadway theaters contribute $5.1 billion per year to the economy of New York, on top of ticket sales, and support 44,000 jobs.
"Every major tourism city has to have a driver, and for New York, the No. 1 driver is theater," said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League.
Nearly 12.3 million tickets were sold in the 12 months up to the end of May, producing $937 million in gross revenues. Some 65 percent were bought by people outside the immediate area.
Broadway producers will be trying to break the $1 billion barrier in annual ticket sales this season at a time when the slumping economy is making consumers think twice about spending $100 on theater tickets.
Musicals are the big earners, accounting for between 85 and 90 percent of gross revenues in the last three years.
Among the most anticipated new shows is "Shrek," based on the 1990 book and the 2001 Oscar-winning Dreamworks film about a green ogre and a princess. Continued...