'Idol' winner boosts 'Color Purple'

Fantasia turned into a box office fantasy for “The Color Purple.”

“American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino’s first week in the starring role of “Purple” shot weekly sales for the Broadway tuner up by a staggering $366,598 to $1,183,722. The take reps the musical’s highest tally ever for an eight-perf week.

Barrino’s stint in the show got a massive publicity boost from an announcement on top-rated reality TV competish “Idol,” plus a segment on Oprah Winfrey’s daytime chatfest.

“Purple’s” bump helped balance a down week overall along the Rialto, which normalized after a bountiful frame pumped by Easter-week sales. Total receipts fell to $22.5 million, down from $22.9 million.

“Tarzan” ($698,041) had the largest downswing of the week, dropping by more than $165,000, but the show was just one of several — “The Lion King” ($1,197,233), “Hairspray” ($747,667), “Chicago” ($561,841), “The Producers” ($544,430) and “Rent” ($440,851) — to fall off by more than $100,000.

“The Pirate Queen” ($757,333) climbed despite less-than-enthusiastic reviews, and “Curtains” ($843,064) also rose. “Grey Gardens” ($335,679) blossomed by nearly $100,000, thanks to the return of star Christine Ebersole.

Top dog “Wicked” ($1,487,336) actually stepped up a bit, too — as did chronic underperformer “Journey’s End” ($171,376).

Among the season’s more recent play offerings, “Frost/Nixon” ($335,374) continued to gain steam, and “A Moon for the Misbegotten” ($572,013) stayed strong. “Inherit the Wind” ($355,075) was off, thanks to a comp-heavy opening week. Previewing tuner “Legally Blonde” ($721,513) slid somewhat.

New to the boards, “110 in the Shade,” starring Audra McDonald, brought in $197,784 while “Deuce,” starring Angela Lansbury, logged $145,912 for four perfs. Also in its first week, “LoveMusik,” starring Donna Murphy and Michael Cerveris, sold $128,930 for five perfs.

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