Premium Content:

On This Gay Day: Playwright Terrance McNally died in 2020

Terrence McNally was one of America’s most celebrated playrights

Terrence McNally died on this day in 2020 aged 81. His death was attributed to the Covid-19 virus.

- Advertisement -

McNally was a five-time Tony award winner. His plays Love! Valor! Compassion! and Masterclass won the Tony Award for Best Play, while he was also recognised for writing the book of two musicals Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Ragtime. In 2019 he received the Tony Award for lifetime achievement.

His career spanned six decades, and his plays, musicals and operas are regularly performed around the world.

McNally’s career got a head start when he was hired by the novelist John Steinbeck to tutor Steinbeck’s two teenage sons while the family took a cruise around the world. While on the journey he began writing the opening act of what would become And Things That Go Bump in the Night. Steinbeck also asked him to write the libretto from a musical version of his acclaimed novel East of Eden. 

His first play explored homosexual relationships and society’s attitudes; it was not a success.  The next works he wrote found more acclaim and audiences engaged with his work. Next, Botticelli, Cuba Si!, Sweet Eros, Let It Bleed, Witness, Bringing It All Home, Whiskey, Noon, Bad Habits, It’s Only a Play are some the works he created in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

In 1975 he wrote The Ritz, a farce where a straight man inadvertently finds refuge is a gay sauna. The following year it was turned into a film.

As the AIDS crisis dominated gay life in New York in the 1980’s McNally like many artists reflected the world around him in his work.

His career grew from strength to strength. In 1987 he wrote Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. The Broadway production starred F. Murray Abraham and Kathy Bates, when it was adapted to a film Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer were cast in the lead roles.

In 1988 he authored Andre’s Mother a play about a woman who cannot come to terms with her son’s death from HIV or share her grief with her son’s lover. The Lisbon Traviata starred frequent collaborator Nathan Lane and explored opera fans, gay relationships and their love of Maria Callas.

1991’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart focused on two married couples sharing a house on New York’s Fire Island surrounded by the LGBTIQA_ community. The original cast included Christine Baranski, Swoosie Kurtz, Nathan Lane and Anthony Heald.

McNally collaborated with Kander and Ebb on the musical The Rink, but their great success came with Kiss of the Spiderwoman, a musical adaptation of the Manuel Puig novel. It explores the complex relationship between two men sharing a prison cell.

More success came with 1994’s Love! Valor! Compassion! which explores the relationships between eight gay men. The following year he scored another massive hit with Masterclass, a character study of the opera singer Maria Callas. Protesters gathered outside the Broadway production of Corpus Christi, the controversial play explores the life of Jesus, but all his disciples are portrayed as being homosexual.

Over his career the prolific McNally created almost 40 plays, 10 musicals, 4 opera, adapted three of his works for the big screen, and had four television projects.

OIP Staff


You can support our work by subscribing to our Patreon
or contributing to our GoFundMe campaign.

Latest

Catch Celtic folk group Amàrach at The Ellington

If you missed the show Celtic folk group Amàrach...

Just one chance: Tama Gucci shoots video during solar eclipse

Musician Tama Gucci has shared the video for their...

Cat Haven crisis: urgent calls to adopt a cat

Cat Haven desperately needs people to adopt a cat.

On This Gay Day | Caitlyn Jenner came out in a television interview

In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner shared her gender in a...

Newsletter

Don't miss

Catch Celtic folk group Amàrach at The Ellington

If you missed the show Celtic folk group Amàrach...

Just one chance: Tama Gucci shoots video during solar eclipse

Musician Tama Gucci has shared the video for their...

Cat Haven crisis: urgent calls to adopt a cat

Cat Haven desperately needs people to adopt a cat.

On This Gay Day | Caitlyn Jenner came out in a television interview

In 2015, Caitlyn Jenner shared her gender in a...

Beau Lamarre-Condon’s lawyer unsure of how his client will plead

The lawyer representing alleged double-murderer Beau Lamarre-Condon has told...

Catch Celtic folk group Amàrach at The Ellington

If you missed the show Celtic folk group Amàrach put on during the recent Fringe World festival, fear not they've got another gig, this...

Just one chance: Tama Gucci shoots video during solar eclipse

Musician Tama Gucci has shared the video for their new song You Lost Me. The clip was filmed during a solar eclipse, meaning the...

Cat Haven crisis: urgent calls to adopt a cat

Cat Haven desperately needs people to adopt a cat.