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Broadway legend Audra McDonald pays powerful tribute to gay playwright Terrence McNally after his death from coronavirus

Patrick Kelleher March 27, 2020
audra mcdonald terrence mcnally coronavirus covid-19

Audra McDonald and Terrence McNally (Walter McBride/Getty)

Broadway legend Audra McDonald has issued a powerful tribute to gay playwright Terrence McNally, who tragically died from coronavirus this week.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, six-time Tony winner McDonald reflected on her time working with McNally and praised him as a powerful advocate for queer representation on stage.

The Broadway veteran praised McNally, who died at the age of 81, as “an easy creative to have in the room”.

She said that some writers can be “precious” about their work and actors can feel “strangled” by them – but said this was never the case with McNally.

Audra McDonald praised Terrence McNally for championing LGBT+ representation on stage following his death from coronavirus.

McDonald also praised McNally’s legacy as a champion of LGBT+ representation, saying he “proudly put gay people up on stage and showed them in mature relationships or faltering relationships”.

She praised him for showing queer people’s “flaws and all their triumphs and tragedies”.

“Terrence was also writing about what he knew, and not only unashamed but shouting to the world, ‘You need to see us for everything that we are. You need to see us fully. In. The. Flesh’,” McDonald said.

“There is no greater way to proclaim ‘I am what I am’ than in the way Terrence did.”

I just think he would say, ‘This is necessary,’ not just for himself, but for the entire community.

Furthermore, she said McNally would never have been the type of person to “pat himself on the back” for his groundbreaking plays.

“I just think he would say, ‘This is necessary,’ not just for himself, but for the entire community,” McDonald added.

She said that McNally was like family to her and spoke of her tremendous sadness at his death.

McNally’s agent confirmed that he had died from coronavirus complications on March 24. The Tony-award winning playwright dedicated much of his career to depicting gay lives on stage, and was known for works including Andre’s Mother, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Love! Valour! Compassion!.

McNally is survived by his husband Tom Kirdahy, also a Broadway producer.

The award-winning gay playwright won a lifetime achievement award just last year at the Tonys.

His death came just a year after McNally was honoured with the lifetime achievement award at the 2019 Tony Awards.

In his speech, he said: “I love being a playwright. The hours are flexible, and you don’t have to wear a tie unless you’re invited to the Tonys.”

He continued: “I love it when I know something I wrote softened the parents who had banished their son and daughter from their lives when they came out to them as gay and lesbian.

“I love it when I remember the artists who tried to help us understand the devastation of AIDS, even when they were stricken with it themselves.

“I love it when I remember that theatre changes hearts, that secret place where we all live.”

More: Audra McDonald, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Terrence McNally

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