(Patrick Healy's article ran in The New York Times, 12/28.)


Falling, Falling, Falling for the Footlight Parade

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my father’s acting debut in a community-theater production of “The Mousetrap,” the Agatha Christie murder mystery. I smiled in my seat the entire time as I watched my dad, an 11th-hour replacement in the role of Detective Sergeant Trotter, piece together the Christie puzzle, stealing glances at a script in his hat because he hadn’t had enough time to learn his lines. Theater seemed so fun and alive, an adventure. Soon I began writing plays and acting, both of which proved essential in overcoming my painful shyness.

It’s impossible not to recall such memories while reading “The Play That Changed My Life,” a valuable new collection of essays and interviews from the American Theater Wing, founder of the Tony Awards and a sponsor of theatrical education programs. Anyone working in theater probably would have something to contribute, but the Wing wisely chose to resist the commercial benefits of turning to stars for anecdotes. Instead it solicited insights from 21 of America’s best playwrights, artists equipped to write knowingly and movingly about the  ways that plays and theater gave them a calling.

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