TheaterWeek, the weekly New York-based theatre magazine, has ceased publication after nearly ten years. The Jan. 6, 1997 issue, now on the stands, will be the last.
Managing Editor Neenyah Ostrom confirmed the news Jan. 6, saying "The problem is that TheaterWeek has lost money every year for nine years. It's an expensive magazine to produce. Every year things got better. Revenues increased. We were getting close to the break even point and hoped to make it by our tenth anniversary. But it just didn't happen fast enough. The clock ran out on us."
She said, "It is very sad for all of our employees and all of our readers. I've been with the magazine for nine years, and I always got the impression that TheatreWeek is a very beloved magazine."
Publisher Charles L. Ortleb told Playbill On-Line Jan. 7 that he is folding his entire publishing company, meaning that the New York Native, a newspaper serving the gay community, also has ceased publication. Ortleb closed his Opera Monthly magazine in 1996.
Ortleb echoed Ostrom's words about the TheaterWeek's financial struggle. "I think this was a viable idea for a publication," he said. "The thing is, we just didn't have enough capital." Ortleb said he is devoting time to developing a musical project about his struggle against the AIDS epidemic, which he is developing on the Internet. Titled Refuse and Resist, the project can be viewed at http://www.tstradio.com/refuse.html or http://www.theaterweek.com.
Staffers were informed of the closing over the weekend, and were allowed into the magazine's West 25th Street offices the morning of Jan. 6 to clean out their desks.
The magazine was home to columnists Ken Mandelbaum, Peter Filichia, Alexis Greene, Charles Marowitz and others with devoted followings.
Contacted Jan. 6, Mandelbaum, Greene and four other writers said they had been told nothing officially, but had been aware of the magazine's tight finances.
Filichia said he had been told previously only that the magazine was skipping an issue this week to bring the date on the cover in line with the actual street date.
Mandelbaum said Monday afternoon that he had been called by a advertising salesman for the magazine, who told him that publication has been suspended. The salesman told Mandelbaum that the offices had been opened for an hour that morning so the staff could get their belongings.
"It's gone," Mandelbaum said, "I'm glad we had a good run: 10 years. It was nice, but it's unfortunate" that it's ending. Mandelbaum also writes for Show Music magazine.
Reached at home in California, Marowitz said the closing was news to him, though he'd had a premonition when he called TheaterWeek that morning about another matter and couldn't get through. Marowitz said that a few months earlier, the magazine had been in difficulty, but he was told by John Harris before the latter's sabbatical that those difficulties had been resolved. "They owed me some money and eventually, I did actually receive it, so I thought the storm had passed. The handwriting was on the wall and seemed to be erased. Now, I guess, it's back."
TheaterWeek had been expanding its content in recent months. The magazine was promoting a new column -- Behind the Scenes -- and advertising for additional staff as late as Dec. 16, 1996. Editor John Harris reportedly began a year-long sabbatical in October.
TheaterWeek established itself as a breezy, informal guide and news source for theatre and cabaret lovers, contrasting with the more formal and scholarly American Theatre monthly magazine. TheaterWeek maintained correspondents in London and Los Angeles and regularly ran news from other cities, but generally highlighted New York theatre.
"It filled a gap," Mandelbaum said. "It especially reached the real fans, the real devotees at a time when there really wasn't anything else for them."