The Pandemic Persists and So Do I

Ten months ago, with COVID’s handwriting on the wall, I closed up shop in NYC and headed for the hills… well, the beach, actually. I have this little place on the Jersey Shore and, as the pandemic closed in, I hid out there.

My self-preserving exile coincided with the shuttering of Broadway and its theaters on Thursday, March 12, 2020, followed inexorably by the end of Playbill as I had known it. The theatrical side of Playbill suddenly had no non-Zoom theatricals for me to cover, while Playbill Classical — which so generously had boosted me with digital space for a monthly column highlighting the Best Classical and Jazz Music in NYC — Playbill Classical ceased to exist altogether as an independent entity; its staff pink-slipped en masse.

Since then, I’ve subsisted as a bookseller (mostly at a distance), while writing obituaries for the New York Times — “advance obits” eulogizing folks who thankfully remain very much alive (so far). It’s a nice, morbid gig with a very long shelf-life.

My lone living, breathing, writing work has involved preparing my new book for publication. EVER AFTER: Forty Years of Musical Theater and Beyond will be published in April 2021 (I think). Nothing is certain any more (need I tell you) but, for the moment, the word I have from Applause Books is that Ever After will be published in April, after getting the bounce on its original pub date somewhere back there in Pandemic 2020.

I plan on using this space to promote the hell out of it.

Meanwhile, as you see, I have migrated here, to Substack.com. Ridiculous name. No more ridiculous, though, than WordPress; or Huffington Post, for that matter. Blogging for the net seems to implicitly require a cute, inexplicable ID. I don’t even want to try and figure that out.

The essence of Substack, I’m told, is that it is a Newsletter platform, rather than a Blog platform. The central advantage to Newslettering is that you get to charge your readers and turn them into “subscribers.” Given the traumatizing collapse of my Playbill stint and, before that, the equally sudden implosion of Huffington Post, I’m just glad to have someone out there reading what I write. Subscription deals for bucks can wait. Please, do read on (and subscribe), gratis.

You are receiving this debut, site-premiering piece because you were on the readership list for my earlier online work. At this point I’m hoping to get a new story out every week, addressing the wounded world of the arts in every conceivable manifestation, as well as the reeling city that I love (and am now living in again).

Future iterations will also bring you pre-pub excerpts from Ever After and new interviews with the interviewed (the book features over 100 conversations with every producer, composer and performer you can think of). These re-interviews will look back and look forward, while also addressing the still awful here and now.

Ever After, some of you may remember, was originally published in 2004 and covered the previous 25 years of musical theater, on and off Broadway. The impending new edition brings the book right up to musical theater’s pandemic shuttering. Quite inadvertently, I find that I have written about the end of an era. Ever After indeed.

AND tell your friends!