Radio Wolinsky

Terrence McNally (1938-2020)

Terrence McNally, who died of complications from the corona virus on March 24th in Florida at the age of 81, was a giant of the American theatre. He received tony awards for his plays Love Valour Compassion and Master Class, and for best book for a musical for Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime. His plays, musicals and operas have been performed around the world. Among his other plays were Lisbon Traviata, Lips Together Teeth Apart, The Ritz, and Frankie and Johnnie in the Claire de Lune.

His plays, rich with humor and deft characterization, also were political in nature, and he never shied away and he was always willing to take a stand especially in the area of gay rights and the necessity for community.

Richard Wolinsky spoke with Terrence McNally on March 18, 2004 in the offices of New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, which was then running the musical, A Man of No Importance, for which he had written the book. The music and lyrics were by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, who he had previously collaborated with on Ragtime. He was in San Francisco as New Conservatory’s playwright in residence that spring, working on a play that would eventually become Some Men, a look at gay mens lives over the course of several decades.

Terrence McNally’s play Some Men played off Broadway in 2007 and would return to its theatre of origin, New Conservatory in San Francisco, in 2009. Over the fifteen years after the interview, he would write several plays that reached Broadway, including It’s Only a Play and Mothers and Sons, along with three musicals, most recently Anastasia, based on the animated film, which ran on Broadway for two years, closing in spring, 2019 after 808 performances.



Share This