Entertainment & Arts

Broadway enjoys record season

Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man Image copyright Joan Marcus
Image caption Bradley Cooper's turn in The Elephant Man helped drive audience figures

New York's theatreland has enjoyed its best ever season, breaking box office and attendance records.

The Broadway League said takings in 2014-2015 were up 7.6% to $1.36bn (£883m).

Attendance also climbed with 13.1 million theatregoers watching a show - a rise of 7.3% on the previous season.

The bumper figures were helped by musicals such as The Lion King - which set a sales record for a show over one season - Wicked and The Book of Mormon.

The Lion King took $101.9m (£66.1m), with sales for Wicked reaching $91.7m (£59.5m) and The Book of Mormon, $84.2m (£54.6m).

The rise in total box office takings comes as less of a surprise, due to more seats being sold at "premium" prices and general ticket price increases.

The current top average ticket price for a musical is $177.30 (£115) for The Book of Mormon. For a play it is $153.40 (£99.50) for The Audience.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tickets for The Book of Mormon are on average the most expensive for a Broadway musical

A number of plays starring Hollywood A-listers also helped drive audiences to Broadway.

Bradley Cooper's turn in The Elephant Man, Helen Mirren reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth in The Audience and Hugh Jackman's The River all featured limited runs over the past year.

The League said Broadway attendance surpassed that of the 10 professional New York and New Jersey sports teams combined by more than 2.6 million - the largest difference since 2005.

Overall, 37 productions - including 10 new musicals and five revivals, as well as 11 new plays, nine play revivals and two specials - opened during the season.

"It's been an extraordinary season on Broadway and I'm thrilled that we have broken all records," said Charlotte St Martin, president of the Broadway League which represents theatre owners, operators, producers, presenters and general managers.

"We've been saying for several years now that there is something for everyone on Broadway. To have audience growth of over 13% in two years clearly proves our point."

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