Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

West End theatres in London enjoy record-breaking year

Jude Law in Hamlet
Jude Law's Hamlet was a big draw for West End audiences in 2009

Plays, musicals, opera and dance in London's West End have enjoyed a bumper year, with receipts topping half a billion pounds for the first time.

In a record-breaking year, 2009 saw box office takings increase by 7.6%, to almost £505m, according to the Society of London Theatre (SOLT).

Productions like Hamlet, starring Jude Law, and The Habit of Art, meant plays had a "spectacular" year.

SOLT president Nica Burns credited the West End's "exceptional" talent.

'Toe-tapping'

She said: "The extraordinary quality and breadth of productions available nightly in London explains these record figures in such a difficult year economically.

"Whilst our musicals continue to flourish, 2009 was an outstanding year for plays - proving that audiences respond to challenge and stimulation as well as toe-tapping entertainment."

Last year was the seventh consecutive year in a row that new attendance and revenue records have been set.

Attendances passed the 14 million mark for the first time - up 5.5% on the previous year.

More than 3.6 million people watched plays in the capital, up 26% up on 2008, whilst audiences at opera, dance and entertainment productions were up 7%.

Musicals were down 2% for the year, but in the final quarter attendances were up 4%.

The figures relate to the theatres represented in membership of the Society of London Theatre which include all the commercial West End together with the major grant-aided London theatres.



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