The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally

Playwright, Librettist

Interviewed on: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Location: at His Home
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #113
Photo Credit: Michael Nagle
"Theater should be intimate, it’s not supposed to be in a barn…Theater is always a leap of faith...there’s no guarantee."
Terrence McNally Highlights
Video Length: 5 Minutes, 9 Seconds
Terrence McNally Interview Part One
Video Length: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes
Terrence McNally Interview Part Two
Video Length: 57 Minutes, 4 Seconds

Terrence McNally is an American playwright whose career has spanned six decades. Simultaneously active in the regional and off-Broadway theatre movements as well as Broadway, he is one of the few playwrights of his generation to have achieved success in both avant-garde and mainstream theater. He is a recipient of the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award. His numerous accolades include four Tony Awards for his plays Love! Valour! Compassion! (1995) and Master Class (1996) and his musical books for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) and Ragtime (1998). He has also received four Drama Desk Awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, and a citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996. He has written a number of television scripts including “Andre’s Mother,” for which he won an Emmy Award. His Broadway credits include And Things That Go Bump in the Night (1965), Noon (1968), Bad Habits (1974), The Ritz (1974), The Rink (1984), The Full Monty (2000), Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (2000), Deuce (2007), Catch Me If You Can (2011), Mothers and Sons (2014), It’s Only a Play (2014), and The Visit (2015). He is the writer of the book for the musical Anastasia (2017), which is currently playing on Broadway. His Off-Broadway credits include SWEET EROS/WITNESS (1968), CUBA SI! (1968), NEXT (1969), WHERE HAS TOMMY FLOWERS GONE? (1971), WHISKEY (1973), BAD HABITS (1974), IT’S ONLY A PLAY (1986), FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE (1987), URBAN BLIGHT (1988), THE LIBSON TRAVIATA (1989), LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART (1989), A PERFECT GANESH (1993), LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! (1994), BY THE SEA, BY THE SEA, BY THE BEAUTIFUL SEA (1996), CORPUS CHRISTI (1998), A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE (2002), THE STENDHAL SYNDROME (2004), DEDICATION OR THE STUFF OF DREAMS (2005), SOME MEN (2007), GOLDEN AGE (2012), and AND AWAY WE GO (2013). His newest play, FIRE AND AIR, will open at Classic Stage Company in early 2018. His work as an opera librettist includes Dead Man Walking (2000) and Great Scott (2015). Terrence McNally was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. He graduated from Columbia University in 1960 with a B.A. in English.

Mentioned in Interview

Edward Albee, Lynn Ahrens, Zoe Caldwell, Joseph Chaikin, James Coco, Stephen Flaherty, Frank Galati, David Greenspan, Adela Holzer, Michael Kahn, Lawrence Kornfeld, Nathan Lane, Jacques Levy, Paul Libin, Norman Mailer, Theodore Mann, Elaine May, Kevin J. O’Connor, Estelle Parsons, Jose Quintero, Mercedes Ruehl, Marian Seldes, Sam Shepard, Madeleine Sherwood, Neil Simon, John Steinbeck, Actors Studio, Albee-Barr-Wilder Playwrights Unit, Astor Place Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Circle in the Square, Circle Repertory Theatre, Classic Stage Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Pearl Theater, Primary Stages, Promenade Theater, Theatre de Lys, AND AWAY WE GO, BAD HABITS, BOTTICELLI, CORPUS CHRISTI, DEDICATION OR THE STUFF OF DREAMS, FIRE AND AIR, FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE, GOLDEN AGE, IT’S ONLY A PLAY, LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART, THE LISBON TRAVIATA, LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION!, NEXT, A PERFECT GANESH, THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, SWEET EROS, THIS SIDE OF THE DOOR, URBAN BLIGHT, WHERE HAS TOMMY FLOWERS GONE?, WHISKEY