A hit, a palpable hit! Not like the non-palpable hits—the Ragtimes and Titanics— whose admiring reviews delude their producers into keeping them on, and on, and on, trapped in the awful twilight existence of shows that aren’t bad enough to close in the first week but aren’t good enough to recoup, no matter how many months you keep them going. The Nineties were one continuous decade of them: you could get pop-opera histrionics or sub-Sondheimian tapeworms, portentous or pretentious, bombastic or boring, the bad night out that’s supposed to be good for us.

And now we have the counterrevolution. The Producers at the St. James is the genuine article. Its redeeming virtue is that it has no redeeming virtue; in its shallowness there is a great profundity, about the deadly plonking pompousness of the modern musical. At the antiseptic revival of 42nd Street, they’re singing,...


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