Show Business: Broadway's Big Down

Broadway has been doing an unconvincing job of dying for as long as it has been alive. These days, however, its hypochondria is being taken seriously—and with good reason. From all standpoints, the current season is as grim as any that Broadway oldtimers can remember since the Depression.

Things stumbled to a start with four flop musicals that lost their producers and backers a total of $2.5 million (Ambassador, Lysistrata, Dude and Via Galactica). The most spectacular were Dude—quickly nicknamed "Dud"—which lost about $900,000 and Via Galactica—originally titled Up—which went down for the...

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