Sunday, May 23, 2010

RIP Michael Kuchwara (1947-2010), Associated Press Theatre Critic

RIP Michael Kuchwara (1947-2010), Associated Press Theatre Critic

Last evening, longtime Associated Press (AP) Drama Critic Michael Kuchwara died in a New York hospital after suffering from complications from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He had entered Beth Israel Hospital on May 10. Kuchwara was 63.

I was stunned and very saddened to learn of Kuchwara's death through an e-mail sent to me from his own AP e-mail address at 8:21 p.m. EDT Saturday evening.

According to the New York Drama Critics's Circle, of which he was past president, Michael Kuchwara was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and was a graduate of Syracuse University. He earned his master's degree in journalism at the University of Missouri. He initially worked for AP out of Chicago as a general assignment editor before transferring to the news service's New York bureau.

Just one month ago, I had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting this beloved theatre critic and writer through friends at that favorite theatrical restaurant and watering hole, Angus McIndoe. While I had known he was following me on Twitter, I was quite surprised and downright flattered to learn how well acquainted he was, not only with my writing, but also with this blog.

Ever the theatre enthusiast, Kuchwara was as every bit as genial and gracious in person as his extraordinarily fair-minded reviews continually demonstrated since he first took over his role in 1984. The two of us briefly discussed American Idiot and La Cage Aux Folles -- the respective shows he and I had just come from.

Sadly, the posting for Michael Kuchwara's final review for The Kid coincided with his entry into the hospital. Reports have indicated that his passing came last night as family was gathered around him. Those same reports also say he was listening to music from Gypsy, his favorite musical.

Michael Kuchwara's love, enthusiasm and passion for live theatre was always evident in everything he wrote. His contributions will be sorely missed.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 23 May, 2010, Blogger Esther said...

I wish I'd had a chance to meet Michael Kuchwara and talk about theatre with him. From the tributes I've read it sounds as though he was as gracious to new acquaintances as he was to old friends.

At 23 May, 2010, Blogger Linda said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Steve. I never met Mr. Kuchwara, but I imagined him to be as you described him--it's nice to know that he was as kind in person as he was in his reviews.


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