According to a report in the January 6-12 issue of Crain's New York Business, advance ticket sales for Broadway shows for January and February are down more than 15% from the same period last year.

The decrease can be attributed to a number of factors, including the current economic climate and the opening of seven new Broadway productions in November. Given the extraordinarily stiff competition, shows are fighting for attention more aggressively than ever before; producers are finding it necessary to mount expensive radio and television campaigns costing $250,000-$500,000 per show.

A number of these campaigns began in recent weeks. The Producers is touting its record number of Tony Awards; Man of La Mancha has a commercial featuring stars Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio singing snippets from "The Impossible Dream"; and spots for Dance of the Vampires highlight the presence of star Michael Crawford. Flower Drum Song will be appealing to the Asian-American audience with a commercial on a Chinese cable channel while Oklahoma! hopes to attract interest in its new Aunt Eller, Patty Duke, via radio and mail promotions.

The League of American Theatres and Producers also hopes to revitalize interest in Broadway with the latest installment of its "Season of Savings" program. Kicking off at 5:15 this afternoon with a free concert in Grand Central Terminal and continuing until March 15, the program offers discounts of up to 50% for long-running Broadway shows like Cabaret and Chicago, as well as newer offerings like Thoroughly Modern Millie and Def Poetry Jam. (For more information about the "Season of Savings," click here.)

Though many shows received a significant box office boost during the week of December 23-29, with Broadway taking in an all-time record high $21.4 million, several productions are expected to close in January and February. Crain's quotes "theater executives" as citing Flower Drum Song, Man of La Mancha, and The Graduate among the most vulnerable shows.