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JIM O’QUINN Whither the American musical? No answer to that well-worn question was

forthcoming in recent American theatrical seasons, but it was a topic on many

minds. As the millennium approached, serious plays seemed to be in vogue,

especially in the commercial theatre, where Arthur Miller’s ever-dependable Death

of a Salesman enjoyed a long and profitable Broadway run; August Wilson

debuted King Hedley II , a powerful new entry in his decade-by-decade

examination of the African American experience; and a talky drama about

nuclear physics, Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, was not only a Tony winner for

2000’s best play but a genuine hot ticket. Musicals, though – that signature

commodity of the American theatre’s golden age, the only theatrical form

verifiably invented on US soil – were in alarmingly short supply.