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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
West End ticket sales rise
My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady has helped box office sales
West End theatre ticket sales have increased by seven per cent in a year, defying fears over falling attendances due to the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Figures for April to June 2001, released by the Society of London Theatres on Tuesday, show sales rose from 2.4m to 2.6m in the same period in 2000.

There are 53 of the capital's most prestigious venues in the society, such as the South Bank's National Theatre where acclaimed musical My Fair Lady ran before its recent move to central London.

Denise Van Outen
Denise Van Outen has proved a big hit in Chicago

The society believes this show, and a series of other hits such as Mama Mia, have kept visitors coming despite the risks associated with the disease and travelling.

A spokeswoman from the society told BBC News Online: "It is a considerable rise on last year and is very encouraging.

"We have seen a number of really strong shows and excellent plays in London over the past few months.

"And there are more really exciting productions set to open in the autumn."


Other high-profile, crowd-pulling productions include The Graduate, with its run of well-known female leads inlcuding Kathleen Turner and Jerry Hall.

Broadway musical Chicago played host to French singing heart-throb Sacha Distel and now features British stars Denise Van Outen and Alison Moyet.

The Beautiful Game
The Beautiful Game has seen a slump

However, despite the optimistic outlook presented by these shows and the society's figures, rumblings of discontent in London's theatreland have also made themselves heard.

At the beginning of July, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber shocked the West End by announcing the closure of his acclaimed new show The Beautiful Game.

The show was said to have been financially crippled by a loss of just under 1m in advance bookings from the US due to the drop in overseas visitors to the capital.

The society's spokeswoman said seasonal fluctuations in ticket sales were the norm.

Sales are generally at their highest over the peak holiday periods of the summer and around Christmas.

The spokeswoman added that the society was therefore remaining cautious.

"The next round of figures, due at the end of September will be a clearer indicator of whether or not there has been a drop in visitors."

See also:

15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Critics honour Beautiful Game
27 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Soccer musical has crowd on its feet
20 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Musical premiere boosts Omagh fund
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Lloyd Webber's Bollywood dream
28 Mar 01 | Arts
My Fair Lady set for sell-out
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
West End crisis 'near'
06 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood lends West End its stars
11 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Full-time called on Beautiful Game
18 Apr 01 | Arts
Van Outen lights up Chicago
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