Documentary Films | 2018 | 94 minutes
SIFF Says:If playwright Terrence McNally’s upbringing were itself a play, you might ask for rewrites on the grounds of cliché: repressive ’50s, Texas backwater; Mom drank, Dad hit; writing was an escape and New York City was Mecca. If his parents never really got him (“Here’s a teenager producing operas in our garage,” reminisces McNally’s brother), they did travel annually to see Broadway musicals, bringing back with them the bug that bit their son and eventually turned him into one of our busiest and most important and honored playwrights and librettists. Jeff Kaufman’s documentary follows his career in tandem with his, and America’s, burgeoning gay identity: from premiere to premiere, lover to lover (Edward Albee, for starters), Tony to Tony, and milestone to milestone, including hits like “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” “Master Class,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and “Ragtime.” Talking heads include a theater queen’s dream lineup—Rita Moreno, Angela Lansbury, Nathan Lane—all eloquent on the wit, passion, emotional intensity, and desire for human connection that run through McNally’s work. At 79, he’s still active, with his latest premiere, “Fire and Air,” off-Broadway this past February.
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