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'Cinderella', 'Phantom', 'Mamma Mia!' alter Broadway schedules

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fans of some of Broadway's top musicals will be able to see their favorite shows on a different day and time as producers introduced Thursday matinees to meet audience demand.

"Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella," "Mamma Mia!" and "The Phantom of the Opera" have begun Thursday matinees in addition to, or instead of, the usual Wednesday afternoon performance.

"We banded together and decided to be pioneers on this and to see if we can make it work," said Robyn Goodman, the producer of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella" and Tony winning musicals "Avenue Q" and "In the Heights."

"It will be a trend if it works," she added. "I think it gives people flexibility in their scheduling.

Each show will have eight performances every week.

"Cinderella," starring Grammy-nominated pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen in the title role, will feature two week-day matinees - Wednesday and Thursday - but there will be no performance on Wednesday evening. Half of its shows will be matinees.

"Mamma Mia!," which has been playing on Broadway since 2001 and features hit songs by the 1970s Swedish pop group Abba, will, along with "Phantom of the Opera," switch its weekday matinee from Wednesday to Thursday.

"Phantom," the Andrew Lloyd Webber Tony-winning smash hit opened in 1988 and is the longest running show in the history of Broadway and the most successful musical of all time.

Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of The Broadway League trade association that represents theatre owners, said the new schedule of matinees should benefit everyone.

"The new option of a Thursday matinee provides even more opportunities to better accommodate the changing schedule of our theatregoers," she said in an email.

Attendance on Broadway dropped slightly in the 2012-2013 season to 11.6 million, from 12.3 million the previous season, according to data from the league.

(This story was refiled to fix spellings of Mamma in 2nd, 7th paragraphs)

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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