This fall has so much potential — for the area entertainment scene…and for our individual psyches.

So, take full advantage of the array of appetizing entertainment options coming your way starting this month. To peruse the menu, see page 28.

Area arts venues will be eternally grateful, not to mention the entire hospitality industry.

For the first time since the spring of 2020, our entertainment venues will be operating without restrictions. No mask mandates. No reduced seating capacity. No anxiety about what the next proclamation might do to business.

A return to normal, albeit a new normal. 

Without question, the pandemic changed things forever. And it accelerated trends already underway — like remote working. That aspect of individual empowerment may prove a silver lining, because a happy camper should prove to be a more productive worker. 

However, for nearly two years COVID snuffed out a vital part of our joie de vivre: the live experience. Those are two years we’ll never get back. Therefore, it’s imperative we maximize the years ahead. 

Consider: The Grand didn’t host an indoor performance for more than 600 days. Other area arts groups faced a similar blackout.

Fortunately, bolstered by loyal patrons and timely government assistance, The Grand and most area arts venues survived the shutdown and reopened. But they did so with one arm tied behind their back.

I remember going to last year’s performance of Waitress at The Playhouse on Rodney Square. It was the first show at that historic 109-year-old theater in 20 months. We were masked, nervous about what we touched and anxious about getting too close to others. In fact, so focused was I on staying within my space bubble that it wasn’t until the performance ended that I realized two long-time acquaintances were sitting behind me.

They didn’t realize it either, so we exchanged apologies for the mutual lack of awareness, well aware of the reason for our obtuseness. Masks and paranoia foster such behavior. 

We may have been “getting out,” but we weren’t moving on. That’s reflected in a recent study by TRG Arts, which surveyed 143 arts organizations in North America and found the number of tickets sold during the 2021-22 season was down 40 percent. Broadway’s attendance last season shows a similar decline. The return to normal may take a while. 

As I compose this column on the back deck of my residence, I’m invigorated by a pleasant Sunday morning and a comforting chorus of birds. It’s a soothing serenade, one I’m confident I will never take for granted. Just like I can now say that post-pandemic, I will never consider “seeing it live” a given.

So, go have dinner. Do drinks with friends. Get tickets to that show. Not only have you earned it, but those putting on the show genuinely need it.

  Jerry duPhily