Shanahan pointed out that the daily news is frequently full of stories about vile and despicable crimes of sexual abuse of children by teachers, priests and coaches, but he also noted that there are plenty of stories about false accusations and lives torn apart over lies.
On the day he auditioned for the role of Father Flynn, Shanahan remembered reading about a P.E. teacher in Kansas who'd been accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl.
He said the case took two years to go to trial, and finally, the accuser came forward and said she'd made the whole thing up. She'd been upset about having to participate in gym glass on a particular day.
The teacher lost his job, his home and had to leave the state.
"The thing to remember," Shanahan said, "is once the accusation is out, you can't take it back."
The play became a film in 2008, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Viola Davis, all of who were nominated for Oscars.
Shanahan said, "The dialogue for the screenplay and the stage production are almost verbatim. John Patrick Shanley did the screen adaptation and directed the film, so he certainly kept control in making sure his story wasn't changed."
But even though the story and dialogue are the same, the film and the play are very different.
"The beauty of the movie is you get to see that world, the school and all those kids. You get to see Sister Aloysius [Meryl Streep] take the transistor radio from the kid. In the play, it hits more home, I think, because you don't see that. It's more about the innuendo."
Everything is hearsay, rumor and gossip, which may or may not be true.
Shanahan added, "I think that's one of Shanley's main points in 'Doubt.' You never know goes on behind closed doors."
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.