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Playwright Terrence McNally Dies at Age 81 of Coronavirus Complications

By: RAVEN SNOOK
Date: Mar 24, 2020
Playwrights

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The five-time Tony winner was well-known for 'Love! Valour! Compassion!' and the books to many musicals

Revered playwright Terrence McNally has passed away at age 81 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. A lung cancer survivor who had with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, he died of complications due to the novel coronavirus. He is survived by his husband, Broadway producer Thomas Kirdahy.

A five-time Tony winner, McNally was a prolific and versatile writer whose many Broadway plays included Love! Valour! Compassion!, a finely wrought portrait of the gay community in the '90s; the outrageous bathhouse comedy The Ritz and Master Class about opera diva Maria Callas. He also wrote the books to a slew of popular musicals, including Ragtime, Anastasia, Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Full Monty.

TDF Stages was privileged to interview McNally a few times, most recently in 2018 about his play Fire and Air, which explored the volatile relationship between Ballets Russes' impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his protégé Vaslav Nijinsky. During that chat, McNally said, "Very beautiful art is almost always created by very imperfect artists," referring to his protagonists. Judging from his output and his beloved reputation, perhaps he was the exception that proved that rule.

Read The New York Times' insightful obituary, and watch his star-studded 80th birthday celebration at the 92nd Street Y and the 2019 documentary Every Act of Life about his live on pbs.org.

Top image: Terrence McNally at the opening of his play Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams at 59E59 Theaters in 2005. Photo by Everett Collection.

RAVEN SNOOK