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March 17, 1993|SHAUNA SNOW | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Opening Nixed: "Face Value," the new Broadway comedy by "M. Butterfly" author David Henry Hwang and directed by Jerry Zaks, has closed before its official opening, shutting down after eight preview performances at the Cort Theater at a loss of more than $2 million. The farce folded Sunday, one week before its scheduled opening, because of what its producers called "a lack of box-office interest." During an earlier three-week tryout in Boston, the play grossed less than $47,000 of a potential $291,000. In a reflection of casting controversies over "M. Butterfly," "Face Value" featured a white performer--played by Mark Linn-Baker of TV's "Perfect Strangers" fame--stepping into the role of Fu Manchu in a musical called "The Real Manchu." South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa had initially commissioned the play, but later released rights to it in exchange for another Hwang work. A spokesman for Hwang said the playwright may revise the script, but that the current version of the play would not be brought back "in this lifetime."

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