Dena Trakes, Publisher of Show News and Director of Marketing for TheaterMania.com, and Leonard Jacobs, Editor-in-Chief of Show News and Chief Theatre Commentator for TheaterMania.com, talked about the fortuitous alliance between these twin theatrical concerns. Trakes founded Show News in 1997 as a four-page newsletter geared to industry professionals. "When it began," she explained, "our mission was to let people know about Off-Off Broadway productions that nurtured the talent of actors, directors and producers."

The publication then evolved into a monthly magazine that featured, in addition to listings, regular editorial departments, reviews and profiles. When the Summer 1999 issue hit the stands, Show News was approached to join forces with TheaterMania.com, one of the largest theater sites on the Web. At the time, TheaterMania.com was just six weeks away from launch.

After picking up a copy of Show News, Darren Sussman, Co-Founder of TheaterMania, proposed the idea of including Show News content on the upcoming site. Because TheaterMania values the importance of Off-Off Broadway, we agreed that Show News would be its exclusive representative of the Off-Off Broadway community. One benefit to the theater-going community is that all show listings - including Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway - will be grouped together and listed alphabetically, rather than separating the listings under the categories of Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, as is done traditionally.

Trakes and Jacobs designed the Show News area of the website, incorporating co-branding between the site and the 'zine. The finished product, updated weekly, will provide more opportunities for exposure and growth for the Off-Off Broadway community.

"What we want to convey," Trakes says, "is what Off-Off Broadway represents: the possibility of greatness. Creativity. Freshness. Talent. I want to expose this venue of entertainment to the largest possible audience, which will benefit ticket sales, the shows and their talent."

Trakes says the website has an "amazing" advertising program with America Online, plus additional alliances with Liberty Travel, NY-Taxi.com and New York Apple Tours, all of which comprise a tremendous pool of potential ticket buyers. "We're trying to forge alliances with as many tourist-associated groups as possible," Trakes says. As Director of Marketing for the site, Trakes plans to launch a promotional campaign that includes ticket giveaways and street promotions by the website's very own "Theater Maniac".

On the content side, Jacobs noted the beneficial aspects of publishing Show News on line. "We're able to increase the number of reviews and features, and the coverage will be more timely. We'll also have the luxury of running stories that would normally be overlooked. The web, by stripping away myths and judgments, will help Off-Off Broadway become accessible and acceptable to all theatergoers - not just those who already know about it."