And then there's the case of ''True West,'' my favorite Sam Shepard play. I caught its world premiere at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco in July 1980. It starred Peter Coyote and Jim Haynie, directed by Robert Woodruff. ''True West'' would make its Off-Broadway debut, also directed by Woodruff, at the Public Theatre at the end of 1980. It starred Tommy Lee Jones and Peter Boyle. In 1982, the Steppenwolf in Chicago did it, with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich, and that moved to Off-Broadway's Cherry Lane in October 1982 and ran for 762 performances. Various actors played the leads, and I caught Dennis and Randy Quaid. (PBS' ''American Playhouse'' filmed Sinise and Malkovich doing ''True West,'' which aired in 1984.)
Then in 2000, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly brought ''True West'' to Broadway at Circle in the Square.
''True West'' debuted 20 years earlier; had two Off-Broadway incarnations; played London in 1991 (with Bob Hoskins and Antony Sher) and 1994 (with Mark Rylance), and was a 1983 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, but the Tonys ruled that ''True West'' was eligible for Best Play in 2000.