In a case of the other shoe dropping earlier than was perhaps expected, it has been announced that Playbill magazine has acquired the rights to publish Stagebill and Performing Arts magazines effective September 1, 2002.

As is pointed out in a press release announcing the news, "Playbill serves virtually all theaters on Broadway and Off-Broadway in New York City; the Metropolitan Opera House, Beaumont Theater, and Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center; and major theaters in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, and Orlando." Beginning with the season just ended, Playbill replaced Stagebill as the program provider for the Metropolitan Opera after many years of service, and it had only recently been announced that a similar switchover would be occurring at Carnegie Hall, so the demise of Stagebill as we know it was not totally unexpected. (Stagebill Media has been the publisher of both Stagebill and Performing Arts.)

The press release quoted Phil Birsh, president and publisher of Playbill, as saying that "We've long admired the brands and the unique position and audience of Stagebill and Performing Arts. We are thrilled to welcome these brands to the Playbill family." Robert Sandla, editor in chief of Stagebill, told TheaterMania this morning that "We don't know what Playbill's plans are regarding our venues--which are theaters, opera companies, and performing arts venues--or regarding the staff here. But they are pros in this business."