Paul Zindel’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds gained acceptance not only in the form of broadcasts on National Educational Television in New York but also through stage performances at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas. Zindel secured a Ford Foundation grant as a playwright-in-residence at the Alley in 1967. In 1970, the play opened in New York, Off-Broadway; then it moved to the New Theatre on Broadway. It closed on May 14, 1972, after 819 performances. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds received an Obie Award for the best Off-Broadway play in 1970. Also in 1970, Zindel won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play and the Vernon Rice Drama Desk Award as the most promising playwright of the season. In 1971, he received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Wagner College, and a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
The success of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds was followed in 1971 by a Broadway production of And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, a play previously staged in Los Angeles in 1967. The Broadway production, starring Julie Harris, ran for 108 performances, and the play made the list of the ten best plays for the 1971 season. Zindel next brought a comedy to Broadway, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, which lasted for only twenty-three performances.
Joining the Actors Studio in 1973, Zindel extensively revised earlier material to produce Ladies at the Alamo, which he himself directed at Actors Studio for a two-week run in 1975. He directed the same play in a brief Broadway run in 1977, as well as a New York revival of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds in 1978. The Coconut Grove Playhouse in Coconut Grove, Florida, premiered Zindel’s A Destiny with Half Moon Street in its 1982-1983 repertory.
Zindel’s plays have moved from little and regional theaters to Broadway and back. Critics say that his later plays have not fulfilled the expectations raised by his initial success. Still, Zindel’s plays continue to be performed in high school, college, touring company, and regional repertory productions.
In 1998 Zindel was honored, along with forty-three other notable dramatists such as Edward Albee, by a walk-of-fame bronze star on the Playwrights’ Sidewalk outside the Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village. In 2002 he also received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime writing contribution to literature for young adults, an honor presented by the Young Adult Library Services Association.