Remembering Terrence McNally, Tony-winning MTI Author

Remembering Terrence McNally, Tony-winning MTI Author

Tony-winning playwright and American theater icon Terrence McNally passed away March 24, 2020. We at MTI are deeply saddened by the passing of this legend in the theater community.

As an MTI author, McNally wrote the book for A Man of No Importance, Catch Me If You Can, The Full Monty, and Ragtime. He was a remarkable and prolific playwright, librettist, and screenwriter.

Terrence McNally with Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty in 2014 (Joseph Marzullo)

In a career that spanned decades, Terrence McNally wrote numerous plays, including Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Love! Valour! Compassion!, and Master Class. All of these titles are considered essential classics in American theater.

Raised in Texas, Terrence McNally arrived in New York City to attend Columbia University in 1956. He made his Broadway debut in 1965 with his play And Things That Go Bump in the Night. McNally won his first Tony Award in 1993 for Best Book of a Musical for Kiss of the Spider Woman, for which he collaborated with John Kander and Fred Ebb. He won the Tony for Best Play in 1995 and 1996 for Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class respectively. In 1998, he would win his fourth Tony for writing the book for Ragtime, his first of multiple collaborations with Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. 

In 2019, Terrence McNally received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. In his acceptance speech, he said: "The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what kindness, truth, and beauty are."

Terrence McNally's work has forever changed theater, and we are all the better for it.