Tributes made to renowned playwright Terrence McNally who has died of coronavirus complications

Tributes have been made to 81 year-old playwright Terrence Mc Nally who chronicled LGBT+ life throughout his career and was honoured with a Tony Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

Terrence McNally
Image: Caitlin McNaney for

World-renowned playwright Terrence McNally has died in Florida of complications from coronavirus.

His husband Tom Kirdahy made the announcement this morning, Wednesday, March 25.

McNally was a four-time Tony Award winner and was known for his thoughtful chronicles of LGBT+ life, homophobia, love, and the AIDS crisis during his 60-year career.

81 year-old McNally had survived lung cancer and was living with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

He began on Broadway in 1963 and his plays are still being revived, most recently, Frankie and Johnny at the Clair de Lune, starring Audra McDonald. His other works include the groundbreaking plays Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, and the book for the musical version of the classic Kiss Of The Spiderwoman.

Paying tribute to McNally, Audra McDonald said: “My dear sweet brilliant kind Terrence. The world is not nearly as sweet of a place without you in it. My heart is breaking yet again.”

McNally told the LA Stage Times in 2013: “I like to work with people who are a lot more talented and smarter than me, who make fewer mistakes than I do, and who can call me out when I do something lazy.

“A lot of people stop learning in life, and that’s their tragedy.”

He received a lifetime achievement award at the 2019 Tonys and in his acceptance speech joked that the accolade came “not a moment too soon”.

“Theatre changes hearts, that secret place where we all truly live.

“The world needs artists more than ever to remind us what truth and beauty and kindness really are,” he said at the ceremony.

Tributes have poured in from those who worked with Terrence McNally and from fans of his work.

Broadway Cares said: “Terrence McNally was one of the founding fathers of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Truly among the greatest playwrights in Broadway history, Terrence gave voice to both the voiceless and those who can stand tall, not only through his art but also his actions.

“He was a steadfast champion for civil and LGBTQ rights onstage and off. He gave us unforgettable characters who told delicate, brilliant, courageous and unforgettable stories that reflected the lives and dreams, joys and heartbreak of us all.

“Terrence believed the most important function of theatre is to create community. We are so lucky that he included Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in his own community by championing us and our work right from the start. He was a loyal and true friend. A champion and member of our Board of Trustees since our earliest days.”

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