Theater: Where Are the Hit Musicals?

This season's drab shows have forgotten how to tell a story

The soul of the stage may be the grand tragedy or its modern cousin, the middle-class problem play, but the essence of Broadway is the musical. Spectacular song-and-dance numbers lure the tourists from Topeka and Tokyo and wave the American flag in London's West End. Every kind of straight play can be developed in the cozy environment of a regional theater, but only on Broadway can the big, brassy musical be consistently nourished with enough cash and applause. Throughout the past season, which many have judged among the worst in a decade or more, the prime barometer of trouble has been...

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