“Terrence gets to the truth in a way that makes you laugh and cry in all different areas – musical theatre and plays. I defy you to name another playwright who can do that. You cannot tell the history of American theatre without celebrating his life and work.” - Audra McDonald

“Terrence started so early to show Americans who gay people are. He did it before anyone else. He did it better than anyone else.” - Roberta Kaplan

“Terrence shows that it’s worth living, it’s worth being an authentic human being, and above all that it’s worth loving.” - Christine Baranski

“The stakes are really high now, higher than ever. We need to bring barriers down, not build walls, but tear them down. We need to love one another more, and see how connected we really are. I think that's the message of art.” - Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally is one of the world’s most renowned, risk-taking playwrights, but he wakes up every day with the spirit of an ambitious and romantic young man. It’s that attitude, mixed with a quiet courage, that empowered him in the early 1960s to be the first proudly open major American gay playwright. 


The son of an alcoholic beer distributor in southern Texas, Terrence traveled the world as tutor to John Steinbeck's children (Steinbeck’s only advice was, "Don't write for the theater, it will break your heart”); suffered an infamous Broadway flop in 1965 at age 24; and went on to write dozens of groundbreaking plays and musicals about sexuality, homophobia, faith, the power of art, and finding meaning in every moment of life. He won four Tony Awards; had long relationships with Edward Albee and Wendy Wasserstein; lost a lover and many friends to AIDS; stopped drinking through the intervention of Angela Lansbury; helped launch the careers of Nathan Lane, F. Murray Abraham, Audra McDonald, Doris Roberts, Patrick Wilson, and Joe Mantello; was an early champion of marriage equality and faced violent protests for his play Corpus Christi; survived a brutal fight with lung cancer; and finally found lasting love with his now-husband, producer Tom Kirdahy.


Terrence’s plays, books for musicals, opera librettos, and screenplays include: And Things That Go Bump in the Night (1964), Next (1969), Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? (1971), Bad Habits (1974), The Ritz (1975), The Rink (1984), Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1987), It's Only a Play (1986 and 2014), Andre's Mother (1988), The Lisbon Traviata (1989), Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), A Perfect Ganesh (1993), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1995), Master Class (1996), Ragtime (1998), Corpus Christi (1998), Dead Man Walking (2000), The Full Monty (2000), Unusual Acts of Devotion (2008), The Visit (2001 / 2015), And Away We Go (2012), Mothers and Sons (2014), and Anastasia (2017). He is currently working on three new plays.