Award-Winning Playwright Terrence McNally Dead at 81

McNally died as a result of complications from the coronavirus

Terrence McNally
Terrence McNally in 2016.
Walter McBride/Getty Images
By Tobias Carroll / March 25, 2020 6:00 am

Terrence McNally, the playwright whose work includes the likes of Love! Valour! Compassion! and Frankie and Jonny in the Clair de Lune, died earlier today in a Florida hospital. McNally’s death came as a result of complications from the coronavirus. Writing at The Washington Post, Nelson Pressley summarized the arc of McNally’s long and storied career:

His modes ranged from anxious farces and social critiques in the 1960s and 1970s, when the gay-bathhouse romp “The Ritz” (1975) was his biggest hit, to the warmhearted “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (1994), which illustrated the lives of eight gay men vacationing at a lake house.

In his review of the 1995 production of Love! Valour! Compassion!, Vincent Canby at The New York Times called the play “a theatrical experience of unusual richness, about characters of unexpected dimension.” McNally was frequently acclaimed for both his portrayals of gay life and for the memorable characters he created in his work.

McNally received a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2019 Tony Awards; a documentary about his work, Every Act of Life, was released in 2018. Last year also saw a high-profile Broadway revival of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, starring Michael Shannon and Audra McDonald.

McNally will be remembered for his work, his activism and his generosity. And the plays, the scenarios and the characters that he created will endure on stages around the world for years to come.

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