The cast of “Mothers and Sons” with playwright Terrence McNally.
(Photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.
Legendary playwright Terrence McNally has died at the age of 81 due to complications from COVID-19. He was 81 years old and living in Sarasota, Florida, at the time. McNally was a lung cancer survivor and lived with chronic inflammatory lung disease.
McNally’s first Broadway credit was the short-lived adaptation of The Lady of Camellias, which lasted 15 performances in 1963, but the prolific writer went on to win five Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Other Tony Award-winning productions include Kiss of the Spider Woman (Best Book of a Musical, 1993), Love! Valour! Compassion! (Best Play, 1995), Master Class (Best Play, 1996), Ragtime (Best Book of a Musical, 1998). He was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Perfect Ganesh (1994).
Philip Galanes wrote for the New York Times, “McNally’s other great legacy might be bringing gayness to a broad theater audience, and in doing so, humanizing and universalizing the specific concerns and sorrows, including AIDS, of the community.”
In a 2019 interview with Galanes, McNally said, “I realized very early that my descriptive powers — what a room looked like, what a person looked like — were scant. But I could write credible dialogue. And my characters sounded different from one another. I could define them better by how they spoke than by telling you how they looked. And after college, when I went to Mexico and wrote half of my Great American Novel, I decided if I really wanted to be a writer, I’d better focus on theater.”
Here’s a look at scenes from some of McNally’s most prolific works:
Love! Valour! Compassion!
It’s Only a Play
Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune
Mothers and Sons