May 28, 2008 / 7:38 PM / 10 years ago

Strike stops Broadway from setting records

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City’s Broadway productions would have set box office and attendance records during 2007-08 if there had not been a 19-day stagehand strike in November, the Broadway League said on Wednesday.

In 12 months ending on May 25, 2008, theatergoers were treated to 36 new productions -- including eight new musicals and 11 new plays -- compared to 35 new productions in those months for 2006/07.

Paid attendance fell 0.2 percent from the previous year to 12.27 million tickets, while Broadway shows grossed about $937.5 million, down from the record set in the 2006/07 season of $938.5 million.

“Officials estimate that had the strike not occurred, all-time records for both box-office grosses and attendance would have been set with an estimated $975 million in grosses, and 12.9 million tickets sold,” the league, a Broadway industry trade association founded in 1930, said in a statement.

Most of Broadway was darkened between November 10 and November 29 when stagehands went on strike after negotiations with theaters owners and producers over a new contract broke down.

Celebrities seen on Broadway during the last 12 month included Kevin Kline, Jennifer Garner, Terrence Howard, Frances McDormand, Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, Claire Danes and Marisa Tomei.

Broadway’s top theater honors, the Tony Awards, will be announced on June 15. “In the Heights,” an original musical about life in a working-class New York City neighborhood, led the nominations for the Tonys with 15.

“While we are disappointed that we didn’t exceed last year’s record-breaking season, we are confident that in the coming season, with such big name shows on the horizon as ‘Billy Elliot,’ ‘Shrek,’ ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Equus,’ to only name a few, that we will have the best season in recorded history,” said Charlotte St. Martin, The Broadway League executive director.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Claudia Parsons and Vicki Allen

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