You may know John Lithgow’s from 3rd Rock from Sun, Broadway or perhaps you caught is one-man show a couple of years ago but you’ve never seen the side he shares in his new book, DRAMA: AN ACTOR’S EDUCATION.
Lithgow’s spend a month back in 2002, helping his ailing father. Desperate to cheer his depressed dad, Lithgow’s resorted to a childhood favorite book and read stories to man who use to be the reader when John was a wee listener. This experience inspired Lithgow’s one-man show and was the seed for his new biography.
The biography starts at the beginning, John’s first walk-on in a play when he was four. He spends amble time discussing his childhood, which was shaped largely by his father’s work as a director, actor and manager of theater. His father’s work allowed for the first protected glimpses at an acting life and presented Lithgow’s with his only identified childhood trauma…. being the new kid in town, over and over again.
Lithgow describes his years at Harvard, as Fulbright Scholar and the final realization that he wanted to be an actor. Details of his early years trying to break into the NY theater scene are enjoyable for a theater outsider but are probably even more so for those in the know. There is some name-dropping which feeds the reader’s curiosity but Lithgow’s has too much decorum for anything salacious. When Lithgow does spill the beans, he is effusive in his praise, delicate in his criticism and chivalrous when he kisses and tells.
But all that is beside the point because really this is a story of a complicated father/son relationship, where Lithgow battles between respect for his father’s work, guilt for surpassing his father professionally and regret for not knowing the man better.
The entertainer does what he does best in DRAMA, gives a funny but touching performance.
Drama: An Actor’s Education by John Lithgow was received for free by the Boston Book Bums