By Gordon Hughes
On, or approximately, March 7th, 2020 eight musicals I was involved in closed down. Went dark. Curtains not going up nightly. Not sure how else to put it. This was the end of theatre as we knew it.
Counting my paper route, I have been employed/working steadily since 1953. That’s 68 years, and I have never been without a job—first, to buy a car, and then later, to sleep and eat indoors.
I put myself through university by working in a high-end grocery store. Then shifting into higher gear, I started my entertainment career as an usher at CBS TV City in Hollywood, and then worked for CBS News; and after graduation I started working full-time in the KCBS-TV News Room. Then on to programming, sales, running a CBS O&O (owned-and-operated) in Philadelphia, and finally marketing for the CBS O&O Station Group. After 25 years at CBS I was tapped to become CEO of American Business Media, where I spent 16 great years. For the past 10 years I’ve been a theatrical producer and investor with my own company, DFB Productions, and have loved it more than anything. That is, until COVID hit and closed all our productions down. All eight of them. It was not only B’way that closed, but also London’s West End, Toronto, and Australia as well as our domestic tour. DARK!
Well, as of this writing we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. This just might not be an oncoming train. Yes, we have re-opened in Australia. We have tentative openings being scheduled in New York. This is very exciting. You have probably read about these events, starting dates in NYC this fourth quarter. Overly optimistic? Maybe, maybe not.
New kinds of seating, proof of vaccines, temperature-taking at the door, and masks. Don’t forget masks.
All this will play out in the coming months. In the meantime, streaming video now has over 125 plays and musicals to watch on your TV set or on your laptop. As a matter of fact, watch for exciting announcements about three of the projects I am involved with—Diana will stream on Netflix starting October 1st and reopen on November 2nd, Come from Away will reopen on September 21st, and Company will open on December 20th.
I, for one, can’t wait to have a glass of wine at Sardi’s upstairs bar (where Joe pours them like you do at home) before the show, and a hamburger at Joe Allen following the show—without a mask—just like the old days.
More than that, I get to go back to work again in an industry I love. See you at the theatre.