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West End takings bounce back thanks to plays

image captionDanny Boyle's Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller helped attendances

London's theatreland has recovered from a slump earlier this year, seeing box office takings between April and June up by 2% on the same period in 2010.

The industry had braced itself after a drop in takings between January and March of 6% and a 10% audience lull.

But figures have increased, due in particular to attendance of plays, which rose 13%.

So far, 2011 receipts total £250.5m - 1.7% down on last year but on track to break the £500m mark for the full year.

Plays featuring star performers such as Kevin Spacey's sell-out run in Richard III have been attributed to the boost in audience figures.

Other star performances included Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch in Danny Boyle's Frankenstein and David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing.

The boost to London tourism during the time of the royal wedding is also credited with helping increased takings.

Society of London Theatre (Solt) chief executive Julian Bird said he was "cautious, but optimistic" about prospects for the remainder of the year.

"There's a very healthy raft of shows being announced across the autumn and into the winter," he told The Stage trade paper.

"It shows that London theatre is giving people something they really want and it shows that people continue to want to spend money on a great night out."

Mr Bird added advance takings were also "substantially" up on both last year and 2009.

The figures cover theatres that are members of Solt, which include the 52 major theatres in the capital as well as major grant-aided institutions.

Total box office revenues in 2010 bucked the recession, taking a record £512.3m, with attendances totalling 14,15m.

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