Show Music, the glossy quarterly bible for lovers of musical theatre, is expected to stop publishing after its fall issue, set to appear the week of Sept. 23, according to industry sources.
The magazine is an arm of the Tony Award-honored Goodspeed Musicals, the respected Connecticut not-for profit that operates a musical theatre library and stages new works and revivals in two theatres — the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam and the Norma Terris in Chester. The magazine is cherished by readers who sought news and reviews about musicals and cast albums from Broadway and around the world, but was not a moneymaker for Goodspeed, according to insiders.
"I certainly wouldn't want to see it die after 20 some years of keeping it going," said Las Vegas-based founder and editor Max O. Preeo, who pens the (unbylined) review sections within the magazine. Preeo founded the publication as a six-page newsletter in 1981 because, at the time, there was no central publication where fans of theatre music could find out about new releases. Goodspeed took it on in 1991. The magazine is thought to have about 5,000 subscribers and is also found on newsstands and in specialty shops.
Show Music recently lost its managing editor, Ryan Klink, over the summer when he became the press rep for the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. Its previous managing editor left in the 2001-2002 season.
Subscribers are expected to be given refunds or other offers, but some close to the magazine say alternative funding could revive the magazine, perhaps in another form. Preeo told Playbill On-Line that his arrangement with Goodspeed allows him to retain rights to the magazine if Goodspeed ever gives it up. Preeo said he has not been officially told by Goodspeed that the magazine will cease being a publication of the non-profit that gave the world Annie, Shenandoah and Man of La Mancha. Goodspeed producer Michael Price was not available Sept. 16 to comment about the magazine's future.
Show Music is considered an important marketplace for new writers trying to peddle their demos, CDs or scripts via advertising or space in the generous reviews section. Productions, books, videos and more are also reviewed regularly in its pages, and its contributors include Eric Grode (a Playbill On-Line writer) and Ken Mandelbaum ("Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Musical Theatre Flops"). Libretti from musicals such as Big and A Class Act were published in its pages, as well, creating instant collector's issues.
Insiders told Playbill On-Line the magazine has, for the most part, paid for itself, but losses over the years have built up. Fans of the magazine lamented the potential loss of the glossy on internet message boards, with some hoping an angel will come through. Others in the community have wondered if there is a way the publication — independent of Goodspeed or not — may become an internet venture or be reduced to a lean, efficient newsletter again with a focus on content and not art.
Visit www.goodspeed.org for more information.
— By Kenneth Jones