OFF BROADWAY: Without 76 Trombones

A musical play in an off-Broadway theater used to be as out of place as a Rolls-Royce in a one-car garage. Exceptions came along: Once Upon a Mattress climbed the magic money tree to Broadway, and The Threepenny Opera revival is now five years old and practically a city park. But overwhelmingly, the tenpenny impresarios preferred to stick to drama, shying from competition with Broadway's big, corporate musicals, which approach high finance with their million-dollar advance sales and use stars whose fees recall the lifetime winnings of Whirlaway. This season, the...

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