"Via Galactica" Ends Saturday
Loss to Space-Age Musical at Uris Put Near $1-Million
by Louis Calta
The New York Times - November 30, 1972


"Via Galactica", the space-age musical reported to represent an investment of almost $1-million, is closing its run at the new Uris Theater, 51st Street, west of Broadway, on Saturday after seven performances.

It marks Broadway's second major musical venture this season to experience financial disaster.  Five weeks ago, "Dude," the Galt MacDermot - Gerome Ragni musical, sustained a loss of $800,000 after playing 16 times at the Broadway theater.

Mr. MacDermot supplied the music for "Via Galactica" Christopher Gore the lyrics and Judith Ross and Mr. MacDermot the book. (Editors Note: This is not true. The book was written by Ms. Ross and Mr. Gore, not Ms. Ross and Mr. MacDermot.) Previously, Mr. MacDermot had contributed the music for the highly successful "Hair" and "Two Gentlemen Of Verona."

Barnard Straus, co-producer of "Via Galactica" with George W. George, expressed puzzlement at the generally negative critical notices accorded the show.  "I don't understand the reviews," he said.  "I think we did something different, something beautiful.  The critics could have given a little more credit to some of the more positive aspects."

"Via Galactica," the inaugural attraction at the multi-million dollar office building theater, the Uris, was two years in the making.  Producers of the show, previously called "Up!", recruited Peter Hall, the British play, opera and film director, to handle the entire direction.  The occasion marked the first Broadway musical assignment for Mr. Hall, who recently was named to succeed Laurence Olivier as director of britain's National Theater.

Because of its complex scenic effects, "Via Galactica" could not be toured prior to New York without incurring heavy expenditures.  The producers, thus, chose to break it in with a series of previews.

RCA-Records was one of the major backers.  But, Mr. Straus said yesterday, "No one is going to get hurt too badly because the production costs are spread among 62 people."

The musical was originally budgeted at $800,000, but expenses are expected to mount because of both the one-week postponement of its opening, last week and dismantling costs.

Among some of the problems faced by the musical was the failure of a $250,000 fully automated rigging system that was to have serviced the production but was found to be inoperative.  It had to be replaced by the traditional counterweight technique.  The cost of replacement was borne by James Nederlander and Gerard Oestreicher, lessors of the Uris for 30 years.

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