Rhonda Johnson
October 27, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Ghost Light: A Memoir

Current Status
In Season
Frank Rich
Random House
Theater, Memoir

We gave it an A-

Ex-New York Times drama critic Frank Rich seems to have emerged from the womb with an ear for a snappy show tune: At age five, he dissects songs from A Star Is Born; by fourth grade he’s seen his first Broadway play and begun tracing his childhood by a growing collection of Playbills. In the vivid, edgy Ghost Light: A Memoir, The Most Happy Fella provides an escape from his parents’ shameful divorce in staid 1950s Washington, D.C., and The Music Man and Gypsy offer catharses for a shy, anxious 10-year-old confused and angered by his new life with a violent, manic stepfather. Even readers bored with tales of boomer childhood misery will be moved by this story of how an unhappy kid turned his passion for plays into a highly influential career. A-

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