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Terrence McNally (born 3 November 1939) is an Americanmarker playwright who has received four Tony Awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Hull-Warriner Award, and a citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild since 1970 and has served as vice-president since 1981. McNally is married to Thomas Kirdahy.

Early life

Born in St. Petersburg, Floridamarker and raised in Corpus Christi, Texasmarker, McNally moved to New York Citymarker in 1956 to attend Columbia University, where he majored in English, graduating in 1960, the same year in which he gained membership into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He worked briefly for the alumni magazine Columbia College Today.

Early career

After graduation, McNally moved to Mexicomarker to focus on his writing, completing a one-act play which he submitted to the Actors Studiomarker in New Yorkmarker for production. While the play was turned down by the acting school, the Studio was impressed with the script, and McNally was invited to serve as the Studio's stage manager so that he could gain practical knowledge of theater. In his early years in New York, he was a protégé and lover of the noted playwright Edward Albee.

In 1968, McNally asked that his name be removed from the credits for what would have been his first major project, the musical Here's Where I Belong. His decision proved to be a wise one, as the show closed after one performance. Although several early comedies such as Next in 1969 and The Ritz in 1975 won McNally critical praise, it was not until later in his career that he would become truly successful with works such as his off-Broadway play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and its screen adaptation with stars Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Broadway

His first credited Broadway musical was The Rink in 1984, a project he entered after the score by composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb had been written. In 1990, McNally won an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Miniseries or Special for Andre's Mother, a drama about a woman trying to cope with her son's death from AIDS. A year later, he returned to the stage with another AIDS-related play, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, a study of the irrational fears many people harbor towards homosexuals and people who have the disease. In the play, two married couples spend the Fourth of July weekend at a summer house on Fire Islandmarker. The house has been willed to Sally Truman by her brother who has just died of AIDS, and it soon becomes evident that both couples are afraid to get in the swimming pool once used by Sally's brother.

With Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1992, McNally returned to the musical stage, collaborating with Kander and Ebb on a script which explores the complex relationship between two men caged together in a Latin American prison. Kiss of the Spider Woman won the 1993 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. He collaborated with Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens on Ragtime in 1997, a musical adaptation of the E.L. Doctorow novel, which tells the story of Coalhouse Walker Jr., a fiery black piano man who demands retribution when his Model T is destroyed by a mob of white troublemakers. The play also features such historical figures as Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan and Henry Ford.

McNally's other plays include 1994's Love! Valour! Compassion! which examines the relationships of eight gay men; and Master Class (1995), a character study of legendary opera soprano Maria Callas which won the Tony for Best Play.

In 1997, McNally stirred up a storm of controversy with Corpus Christi, a modern day retelling of the story of Jesus' birth, ministry, and death in which both he and his disciples are portrayed as homosexual. In fact, the play was initially cancelled because of death threats from extremist religious groups against the board members of the Manhattan Theatre Clubmarker which was to produce the play. However, several other playwrights such as Tony Kushner threatened to withdraw their plays if Corpus Christi was not produced, and the board finally relented. When the play opened, the theatre was besieged by almost 2000 protesters, furious at what they considered blasphemy. When Corpus Christi opened in London, a British Muslim group called the Defenders of the Messenger Jesus even went so far as to issue a fatwa sentencing McNally to death. On January 19, 2008, Robert Forsyth, Anglican bishop of South Sydneymarker condemned "Corpus Christi" (which opened for February's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, a play depicting Judas seducing Jesus): "It is deliberately, not innocently, offensive and they're obviously having a laugh about it." The play also showed Jesus administrating a marriage between two male apostles. Director Leigh Rowney accepted that it would offend some Christians and said: "I wanted this play in the hands of a Christian person like myself to give it dignity but still open it up to answering questions about Christianity as a faith system."

McNally's play Deuce started previews on April 11, 2007. Directed by Michael Blakemore, it starred Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes.

Writing credits

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