Holding Onto Herself

For the first time in the almost two years since she began dating Alex Honnold, the most accomplished free solo climber in the world, she allows herself to think about all the things that could go wrong on El Capitan the next day — when Honnold would attempt to become the first person to climb Yosemite’s monolith with no ropes or safety gear.

Why Not? The Art of Believing

When Katie Ziglar believes in the power of an idea or a project, it persists — across the decades, across continents, through the halls of the Smithsonian, in the mansions of maharajas, over the demolition of gender barriers and through her polite-but-persistent, lifelong takedown of the phrase, “That can’t be done.”

Cake and Conversation

As writer Bekah Brunstetter shows throughout her funny and moving play,  The Cake, reconciling traditional roots with progressive values in a polarized world is wrenching work. And while no one should expect to abandon the things that sustain her — be it waffle fries, her faith or the person who has captured her heart — what should be expected, the play shows, is conversation, with a generous dash of understanding and more than a pinch of heart.

Step Into Those Shoes

They elbow one another for space in his mind: young black teenagers and their worried mothers, old white supremacists and their nervous wives, skeptical lawyers, gravelly voiced journalists and a slave who mailed himself to freedom inside a box.

Mike Wiley not only plays them all on stage — often more than two dozen characters in a single performance, with no costume changes and few props — the documentary theater actor and playwright rehearses himself to sleep at night with their dialogue, their humanity and inhumanity, strumming through his head.

Magic Mary

Even 12- and 13-year-olds, often boys, will sheepishly make their way to Mary Pope Osborne at a signing table, mumbling and apologetic for their presence among young kids. She is swept up by their “sweetness and their sincerity.”

“I love them,” Osborne said in a whisper. “I feel like I’ve been given this extraordinary lesson. Their vulnerability — and their parent’s vulnerability, because they are so excited for their child — is all over their faces. Over and over, it breaks my heart. I have tons of these moments, and they add up, you know? And I go, ‘Mary, you’re pretty lucky, you know that?’ ”

A Good Man Was Easy to Find

You really want a guy like Billy Crudup to be a star the way a Tom Cruise or a Brad Pitt is. You want the juiciest piece of Crudup trivia on a fan Web site dedicated to him to be more than just the fact that he once played Schroeder in a Lab! Theatre production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." You want lunchboxes with his face on them. More segments about him on "Entertainment Tonight."