The difficult journey of a Broadway conductor returning from Long Covid


By the time he was a freshman at Yale studying music, he had decided he wanted to be a conductor. As a young musician in New York, he began to climb the ranks of the musical theater world. Over the years he has directed the music for “Cats” and “Wicked”, among other productions. He and his husband, Martin Lowe, another music manager, live part-time in New York and London as work takes them.

In 2016, theater director Marianne Elliott approached Mr. Fram with an idea. She wanted to update “Company,” Stephen Sondheim’s classic 1970s musical, by reversing the gender of the title character, who plans to settle down at the age of 35, from male to female to make the more contemporary show. Mr. Fram agreed to collaborate and supervise the music.

In August, they met with Mr. Sondheim, then 86, to ask his permission.

“We were completely terrified and wanted him to say yes, so much,” Mr. Fram said. “And to his credit, he basically said, ‘Do a workshop, capture it on video and send it to me and I’ll see what I think. “”

When Mr. Sondheim gave his approval, Mr. Fram, the show’s musical supervisor, rearranged the vocals and gathered musical talent for the show. It first opened in London’s West End in 2018 and was due to open on Broadway on March 22, 2020 – Mr Sondheim’s 90th birthday. Broadway closed on March 12.

The tight-knit world of Broadway has been hit hard by Covid. Danny Burstein, then star of “Moulin Rouge”, was hospitalized; Nick Cordero, a 41-year-old Broadway actor then in Los Angeles, has died. Mr Fram was not hospitalized and by early April he believed he had recovered. But a few weeks later, things changed. “It was like someone had flipped the switch on my metabolism,” he said.

In the middle of a yoga session, he looked down and thought he was going to pass out. As the days passed, he developed joint pain, deep fatigue and shortness of breath, feeling short of breath after walking only three blocks.

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