But there have been indelible performances here, too, including Colleen Backer's gossamer Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, Gary Wayne Barker's baleful chauffeur in The Homecoming, Kevin Beyer's Salieri in Amadeus and his Coach in That Championship Season, Lavonne Byers' patrician mother in A Delicate Balance. I was wrenched by the anguish of John Flack's Quentin in After the Fall and haunted when Joe Hanrahan spun a boozy Irish ghost story in St. Nicholas. I was delighted when the deft Alan Knoll, Michelle Hand and John Krewson found the frolic in David Mamet's November; I was dazzled when Nancy Lewis and Meghan Maguire so sublimely duked it out in David Margulies' Collected Stories.

Student productions have been equally important to my theater growth: Washington University unlocked the mysteries of Caryl Churchill's cryptic Cloud Nine, Saint Louis University transformed Lorca's House of Bernarda Alba into a sensual spellbinder and the Conservatory at Webster University introduced me to the luminous chamber musical Violet and to the Lillian Hellman barnburner The Children's Hour.

People will ask: You have a great job, so why are you leaving? And it's true that my editors at the RFT have been the best possible partners. There are always a variety of reasons behind a decision to surrender something you've loved and built, but here is one. In 1993 when New York Times theater reviewer Frank Rich voluntarily left his lofty perch after thirteen years, he was asked the same question: Why are you going? His reply: "How many ways can you describe Bernadette Peters?" I know how he felt.

It is time for a fresh voice.

Editor's note: Dennis Brown's reviews will officially conclude at the end of the calendar year.

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