Theater strong in London despite recession

Actors like Jude Law, Ian McKellen help draw theatergoers

LONDON -- Londoners are flocking to the theater despite the recession.

Industry group the Society of London Theatre says more than 7.5 million visits were made to London venues between Jan. 1 and July 18, 2.5% more than in the same period of 2008.

Society chief executive Richard Pulford said Friday that the figures were "a real cause for celebration" and a sign London's economy is still vibrant.

Most of the tickets sold were for musicals but almost 2 million were for plays -- an increase of 19%.

Big-name actors have helped draw large audiences to dramatic fare, including Jude Law's "Hamlet" and a production of "Waiting for Godot" with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.