South Pacific helps increase attendance at Guthrie Theater

South Pacific, the highest revenue-grossing show on record at the Guthrie, played a big role in boosting audience numbers this year.

The Guthrie Theater managed to get more butts on seats this year despite reducing the number of shows at the iconic Minneapolis venue.

In the first full year under artistic director Joseph Haj, the downtown theater turned a modest surplus of $47,408 on its $28 million budget in 2015/16 – about double the surplus it made last year, it announced this week.

This was achieved despite a smaller budget than in 2014/15 – which was its largest ever as donations rolled in for Joe Downling's last year as director – that saw the total number of productions reduced to 29 across its three stages.

Despite this, total attendance grew to 380,108 – 1,570 more than last year – with shows playing to 84 percent of capacity on average throughout the season.

A large part of Haj's successful first year is down to the Guthrie's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, which Haj himself directed.

It has gone down as the highest-grossing show at the theater, the Guthrie said in its news release.

"I am incredibly proud of the season we put forth in 2015-2016 and so moved by this community's overwhelming response to the art onstage," Haj said.

"I am committed to ensuring that the Guthrie is a theater that belongs to the community it is charged to serve, and I’m excited by the steps we took to further patron engagement around our programming and look forward to advancing that work," he added.

The Guthrie said 24 percent of the theater's tickets this year went to students, teachers and other community members free of charge or heavily discounted, costing no more than $10.

Other highlights of the year included To Kill a Mockingbird, anda production of Shakespeare's Trouble in Mind.

Currently bringing in crowds to the Wurtele Thrust stage is the annual production of A Christmas Carol, you can read GoMN's review here.

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