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Box office picks ‘Daisy’

Play earns unexpectedly strong advance sales

The upcoming Broadway production of “Driving Miss Daisy” is turning out to be no wallflower: The play has racked up advance tickets sales of nearly $4.5 million prior to beginning previews Thursday.

Sure, “Daisy” has a couple of well-known faces in the cast — Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones — and the title’s well known to auds who remember the 1989 Oscar best picture winner, but that’s still an unexpectedly strong tally.

Those kinds of numbers for the show, which is capitalized at about $2.6 million, naturally led to speculation about the drawing power of the title, which just may prove strong enough to sustain a run beyond the 16 weeks skedded with stars Redgrave and Jones.

“When you put actors with a high appeal together with a story that’s familiar to many, it’s obviously a potent combination,” said “Daisy” producer Jed Bernstein.

For now, he and fellow producer Adam Zotovich said they remain cautious and are concentrating on getting the most box office traction they can for the limited engagement currently planned. Neither one, however, would rule out an extension (with or without Redgrave and Jones) or further productions on the road or in London.

Star-driven play revivals have become one of the more reliable models for fiscal success on Broadway, with shows including the Katie Holmes-John Lithgow starrer “All My Sons,” the Liev Schreiber-Scarlett Johansson toplined “A View From the Bridge” and the Jude Law “Hamlet” among recent examples. (Zotovich was on the producing team of both “Sons” and “Bridge.”)

None of those shows extended their runs with a second cast. Whether “Driving Miss Daisy” will prove enough of a hit to test the B.O. power of its title with a new pair of stars depends on a number of factors, including the reviews it earns in the wake of the production’s Oct. 25 opening.

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