Michael Kuchwara, Theatre Critic for AP, Dies at 63

Obituaries   Michael Kuchwara, Theatre Critic for AP, Dies at 63
 
Michael Kuchwara, a steady presence on the aisle as a longtime theatre critic for the Associated Press, died on Saturday in Manhattan, according to the New York Times. He was 63.

His death, at Beth Israel Hospital, was caused by idiopathic ischemic lung disease.

As the drama critic and theatre reporter for the AP, his work was widely disseminated, and, thus, influential. He joined the news service in the early 1970s, working in Chicago as a general assignment reporter, and became the service's primary theatre voice in 1984.

Affable and easy-going, he was a common sight at Broadway openings, almost always smiling, and invariably dressed in a pair of dark tan pants and a light tan, short-sleeved shirt.

Michael Charles Kuchwara was born in Scranton, PA, on Feb. 28, 1947. His father was an Air Force pilot, said the Times, who later worked for the National Security Agency. He was a graduate of Syracuse University and attained a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Mr. Kuchwara was a past president of the New York Drama Critics' Circle.

According to his sister, Pat Henley, he always wanted to be in the audience, never on the stage. His got his wish, attending nearly every opening Broadway and Off-Broadway had to open each season. When such publications as New York magazine and Variety dispensed with a chief theatre critic in recent years, Mr. Kuchwara's reviews gained in importance.

"As theater reviewers have been dropped, newspapers increasingly pick up the Associated Press reviews, making Michael Kuchwara arguably the most influential legit critic in America," Variety writer Robert Hofler said in July 2009.

Mr. Kuchwara's last review, which ran May 10, was of the Off-Broadway musical The Kid.

He said his favorite show was Gypsy. According to the AP, he was listening to the score when he died.

In addition to his sister, Mr. Kuchwara is survived by his wife, the former Jonnie Kay Kitchen, whom he married in 1975.

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