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Sparks hits ‘Heights’

'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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