'Idol' winner could boost sales

When “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks steps into Broadway tuner “In the Heights” this summer, the casting could bump up the B.O. for the 2008 Tony-winning musical.

The last “Idol” winner to play Broadway, Fantasia Barrino, prompted a huge spike at “The Color Purple” in 2007, pushing weekly sales above $1 million for several weeks and reviving the fading musical.

Not all “Idol” alums cause such sizable B.O. hikes — or even generate much of a rise at all — but a handful of the higher-profile “Idol” contenders have sparked sales. Receipts soared when Clay Aiken joined “Monty Python’s Spamalot” in early 2008 and there was a steep tumble in the frame following his departure.

Sparks, who makes her Main Stem debut in “Heights,” will play Nina, a student who is one of the central characters in the show, about the close-knit residents of the upper Manhattan neighborhood Washington Heights.

She’ll join the cast Aug. 19 about a month after current topliner, “High School Musical” star Corbin Bleu, departs on July 25. His addition on Jan. 25 didn’t cause a significant B.O. boom.

Sparks won the seventh season of “Idol,” and has released two albums that yielded charting tunes, including “One Step at a Time” and “No Air.” She will tour in June before stepping into “Heights.”

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