Musical to close on Feb. 24

The Broadway tuner adaptation of “The Color Purple” will shutter Feb. 24 after more than two years on the boards.

Show, which opened Dec. 1, 2005, recouped its $11 million investment in about a year and has grossed around $102 million in Gotham so far.

Tuner, which saw box office flag after its first year, reinvigorated sales last spring with the addition to the cast of “American Idol” alum Fantasia Barrino. The week the thesp began her stint in the show in April, grosses rocketed up by more than $365,000 to nearly $1.2 million.

Her departure this month, however, precipitated a steep drop in sales (compounded by the usual post-holiday doldrums that affect all of Broadway), with week-to-week receipts dropping by nearly half (to $388,936) after her final perf Jan. 6. Last week the show logged receipts of $477,153.

Run of “Purple” has been notable for consistently attracting a sizable black aud, a demo rarely tapped by the Rialto. According to producers, crowds at “Purple” tend to average between 50% and 65% African-American; the streetwide average was 7.5% as reported by the Broadway League in a study covering the 2006-07 season.

Show also has cultivated group sales from family gatherings and church groups.

“Purple” established a high national profile early in its run thanks to the promotional power of Oprah Winfrey, one of its producers. TV helped fuel awareness not just through Winfrey’s talkshow — which plugged “Purple” in the early days of its Gotham stint and then again when Barrino became involved — but also through ratings juggernaut “American Idol,” on which Barrino’s stint in “Purple” was announced.

The national tour of the tuner, which kicked off in Chicago in April, is skedded to remain on the road through 2009.

Closing of “Purple” frees up the Broadway Theater, one of the street’s largest houses. Venue is said to be eyed by producers of the upcoming legit adaptation of “Shrek,” set to bow on the Rialto this fall.

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