Broadway: What Makes Some Run

The current season, on and off Broadway, has been less distinguished for its successes—few and far between—than for the remarkable survival rate of plays that were none of them straightforward hits back when they opened. The formulas of pluck, luck or pure hokum involved were never the same, but together they make a fascinating catalogue of the remarkable methods used to make some shows run.

Keep It Cozy. Take the case of The Fantasticks, a shamelessly romantic bit of fluff with a first-rate score. After losing money the first nine weeks, it...