Story by Lizzie Guilfoyle
ACCORDING to figures compiled directly from independently audited
box office returns, for the 52 West End theatres that belong to
the Society of London Theatres (Solt), the industry is thriving.
And it's thanks mainly to hit musicals such as Mary
Poppins and The
Producers, as well as the calibre of dramas like Journey's
End and One
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which starred Hollywood actor,
In fact, as far as ticket sales went, 2004 was the best in the
25 years since records began, with audience members numbering
12 million which, in turn, generated receipts totalling £341,758,566.
Although overall attendances did,
in fact, rise 3% from 2003, they fell just short of the record
12, 064,100 set in the previous year.
Perhaps not surprisingly, musicals proved most popular with over
7 million attendances, while plays netted just under 3 million.
The remaining 1.6 million were divided between opera, dance, one-man
shows, revues and stand-up comedy.
Speaking to the BBC, the Society's Chief Executive, Richard Pulford
said: "This is an excellent set of figures underlining the
West End's position as the vibrant entertainment hub of London.
"The figures confound speculative press stories about declining
audiences that appeared during the year. With a 3% rise in audiences
and a 6% rise in income, they also indicate that ticket prices,
on average, rose no more than inflation."
He added: "In the nature of things, there will always be
individual shows that fare less well than others.
"But, taken all in all, London theatre production is in