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Good news for West End theatres



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, Christian Slater.

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 good health."

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