Acclaimed playwright and librettist Terrance McNally has died at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida from complications due to coronavirus. He was 81.
His publicist, Matt Polk, confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter. McNally suffered from lung cancer since the late ’90s, which caused him to lose portions of both lungs. Coronavirus causes severe respiratory issues.
McNally is survived by his husband, the Tony Award-winning Broadway producer and former HIV/AIDS activist, Tom Kirdahy.
McNally was a five-time Tony Award recipient with an incredible 25 Broadway productions throughout his career. Among his most-known works are Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider-Woman, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class and The Ritz. In total he wrote nearly 50 plays, 10 of which were musicals.
Described as “the Bard of the American theater,” McNally’s writing crossed all genres over his six-decade career, from avant-garde dramas to hit musicals. Much of his work focuses on the deep need for human connection, and he said the most vital role of the theater is to connect folks of different races, genders and sexual orientations to the common human experience.
“Theater is not a place to hide from the world but instead the very place where we may finally discover our true selves,” McNally wrote in the foreword of his 2002 musical A Man of No Importance.
Nathan Lane, who starred in several of McNally’s shows over the years, wrote in 2015 that “There is no better collaborator in the world.”
In 2019, McNally received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tonys — here is his acceptance speech:
Head here for a full look-back at his remarkable life and career.