Michael Kuchwara, 63 who found a worldwide readership in writing about the theater for the Associated Press, as both reporter and critic, for a quarter-century, died Saturday in New York.
He died of idiopathic ischemic lung disease, said his sister, Pat Henley.
As passionate about the theater as he was industrious, Mr. Kuchwara was known in the theater world for his seeming ubiquity. Based in New York, he covered Broadway and off-Broadway and frequently made out-of-town trips to see shows.
Writing with warmth and clarity, he reviewed as many as 200 productions a year while contributing news articles about shows opening or closing; labor disputes; Tony nominations; and the deaths of notable writers, directors, and performers, as well as conducting dozens of interviews with notable entertainment figures.
"Anyone for alienation?" he began his April review of a show that opened in New York. "The angry, aimless youth who populate the stage adaptation of Green Day's American Idiot have found their way to Broadway, venting their cynical unhappiness with life in the same theater that once housed such sunny, all-American musical-theater classics as Oklahoma! and Hello, Dolly!"
Born in Scranton on Feb. 28, 1947, Mr. Kuchwara was a show-business devotee from an early age, from the time he saw his first show, Third Best Sport, a late-1950s comedy by Leo and Eleanor Bayer that starred Celeste Holm, at the Pocono Playhouse in Pennsylvania.
"That summer-stock production was magical to a little boy who reveled in the darkened auditorium and the bright lights on stage," Mr. Kuchwara wrote.
His sister said he "knew exactly what he wanted to do as a kid."
"He didn't want to act," Henley said. "He didn't want to direct. He just wanted to watch shows."
Mr. Kuchwara graduated from Syracuse University and earned a master's degree from the University of Missouri. He began his 40-year career at the AP as a reporter in the Chicago bureau and later moved to New York as an editor on the national desk. He took over the theater post in 1984.
"Wherever you went, Mike would show up; he was just everywhere," Des McAnuff, a Tony-winning director who is now the artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, said in a phone interview. "I think he went into the theater hoping that something wonderful was going to happen." - N.Y. Times News Service