Theater: Sailing Through the Storms

James Clavell's troubled musical Shogun arrives on Broadway

Lasers embroidered the curtains with bursts of aquamarine and white to simulate lightning. An electronic hiss and crackle conjured up thunder. Billows of cloth suggested wind and rain, then fell away to reveal the swaying prow of a tempest-tossed Renaissance ship. Its captain shouted orders, wrestled with the wheel, tumbled into a make-believe sea and emerged a moment later as if dragging himself onto shore. He cried in triumph, "Sweet Jesus, I'm alive!"

The relieved laughter and sustained applause that greeted Philip Casnoff as he spoke that line were partly to honor the melodramatic stage effects. But much of the response...

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