NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Larry David's new play, "Fish in the Dark," is shaping up for a major opening on Broadway next month and has already set a record for advance ticket sales by racking up $13.5 million before a single performance.
The comedy about death begins previews on Feb. 2 and opens on March 5 for a limited 18-week run at the Cort Theatre. It is written by and stars David, the co-creator and writer of the hit comedy series "Seinfeld" and the star of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," in his Broadway debut.
A spokesman for the play said the record $13.5 million in advance ticket sales stemmed from the popularity of David.
The Brooklyn-born, bespectacled comedian plays a character whom he described as very much like himself.
"A close friend, his father died and he started telling me about it," David, 67, said in a video clip about the show. "It sounded like a great idea for a play."
The play broke the previous record of $13.05 million set by "Betrayal." The revival of the Harold Pinter marital drama starred Daniel Craig, known for his film role of fictional secret agent James Bond, and his real-life wife, Rachel Weisz.
"Fish in the Dark" is directed by Anna D. Shapiro ("August: Osage County") and produced by Scott Rudin.
The play also stars Rita Wilson ("Sleepless in Seattle") and Rosie Perez ("Pineapple Express"), who said in a video clip she "read it with her mouth on the floor" and could not believe some of the jokes.
David admitted he had not been in a play since eighth grade and added that it was "a crazy thing to take on."
But the gamble is paying off, judging by the advance sales in a Broadway season full of Hollywood stars.
Bradley Cooper, a best actor Oscar nominee for his role in "American Sniper," is performing to packed houses in the revival of "The Elephant Man," which grossed more $678,000 for the week ended Jan. 18, and Tony winner Hugh Jackman is a big draw in "The River," which made nearly $723,000 that week.
Jake Gyllenhaal, a best-actor nominee for "Brokeback Mountain," has shown his star power in the two-person play "Constellations," opposite British actress Ruth Wilson, a Golden Globe winner for her role in "The Affair" on premium cable network Showtime.
Triple Tony winner Glenn Close is also back on Broadway after a two-decade absence in "A Delicate Balance."
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)