It's been a boffo season on Broadway: The Great White Way has just had the the highest grossing and best attended season in its history, according to new numbers crunched by the Broadway League.
Attendance for the 2014-15 Broadway season was 13.1 million, up almost 900,000 from the previous year, and grosses surged to $1.36 billion - up more than $96 million from the season before, according to the League.
"It's a very healthy time for Broadway, a really good time for Broadway -- there's so much variety," and an huge number of shows have been hits, said Molly Barnett, vice-president of the theatre division for O & M Co., the theatrical press agency.
Broadway attendance increased 13.3% over two years, helped along in part by extended runs: Playing weeks increased 8.7% over last year.
Record tourism levels -- "there's nothing more New York than going to a Broadway show," Barnett noted -- are one driving force behind the trend.
The tremendous constellation of movie and television stars taking to the boards is also responsible for the uptick. Celebrities in a cast "automatically make a show an easier sell," observed Joe Trentacosta, president of JT Public Relations. Tourists and New Yorkers "may not understand what a particular show is about, but they will go to see a particular person," such as Larry David in "A Fish in the Dark," Tony Danza in "Honeymoon in Vegas," Helen Mirren in "The Audience," or the bevy of stars, including Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in "It's Only a Play," Trentacosta said.
"We're giving theatregoers what they want," Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, said in a statement. "Ticket buying is easier and alternate curtain times and more selections of matinee days make seeing a show convenient for every schedule," she said.
Thirty seven productions -- including 15 musicals -- opened during the 2014-15 season, which ran from May 26, 2014 to May 24, 2015.
Broadway attendance eclipsed that of all the professional New York and New Jersey sports teams combined, according to the report.