The four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally will discuss his work and his collaborations with musical theater luminaries Harold Prince and John Kander and Fred Ebb in a conversation with Broadway director John Doyle, a professor in Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. The discussion will take place on Monday, November 21 at 2:00 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street as a part of Doyle’s course, “Luminaries of the American Musical Theater.” Presented by the Lewis Center’s new Program in Music Theater, this event is free and open to the public.
Doyle’s course focuses on seven icons of American musical theater in the past 60 years, specifically Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, and Stephen Sondheim. Students are examining the influences of these icons on the evolution of American musical theater by studying the scripts and performances of musicals such as Chicago and West Side Story, presenting new production ideas for these plays, and engaging in lectures given by visiting professional musical theater figures who worked closely with these masters.
Terrence McNally is one of the most recognized and prolific modern-day playwrights. After graduating from Colombia University with a B.A. in English, McNally got his start by working as the stage manager for the Actor’s Studio and was the partner of playwright Edward Albee. Since then, he has received two Best Play Tony Awards for both Love! Valour! Compassion! (1995) and Master Class (1996), as well as Best Book of a Musical Tony Awards for both Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) and Ragtime (1996). He has collaborated on various projects with duo Kander and Ebb, including his first credited Broadway musical, The Rink, in 1984 and Kiss of the Spider Woman, directed by Prince and staring Chita Rivera. He also wrote the book for the Kander and Ebb musical The Visit, directed by Doyle, and for the stage musical of The Full Monty. McNally has also received an Emmy Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant and four Drama Desk Awards for his work. His career has spanned six decades with an expansive diversity and range in his work, which continues to be centered on the difficulties of, and urgent need for, human connection.
Doyle is a Tony Award-winning director recognized for his work on the Broadway revivals of Sweeney Todd and Company. This past year he received a Drama Desk Award as Best Director of a Musical for his revival of The Color Purple, for which he was also nominated for a Tony Award. His other credits in the U.S. include productions of The Visit (Tony nomination for Best Musical, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director); Mahagonny (Los Angeles Opera, two Grammy Awards); Passion (Classic Stage Company, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director of a Musical); Road Show (Public Theatre); Caucasian Chalk Circle (American Conservatory Theatre); and Kiss Me Kate (Stratford Festival Theatre). As well as numerous credits in London’s West End, Doyle has also directed at Sydney Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, La Fenice in Venice, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Second Stage Theatre, Princeton’s McCarter theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He has taught in Princeton’s Program in Theater and the Princeton Atelier for the past three years, and is the artistic director of Class Stage Company in New York City.
Doyle’s class hosted discussions on other American musical theater figures throughout the semester in conversations with President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization Ted Chapin, Tony-nominated choreographer and director Graciela Daniele, Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie, who originated the role of Cassie in Broadway’s A Chorus Line, and Jonathan Tunick, an orchestrator who collaborated with Stephen Sondheim and most of the great composers of the American musical theater.
The series is supported in part by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council of the Humanities.
The new Program in Music Theater is a collaboration among Princeton’s Program in Theater, Program in Dance, and Department of Music, which brings together students, faculty, and guest artists in the creation, study, and performance of music theater—that is, any theatrical form that combines singing, acting, and movement—in order to support and develop it as both an artistic practice and a scholarly field of study.