|THOMAS MEEHAN - Librettist
In writing career that has spanned over forty years, Thomas Meehan has been a journalist, a writer of fiction, an award-winning writer of television comedy, a screenwriter, and a Tony-award-winning librettist of some very successful Broadway musicals, including "Annie," "The Producers," and "Hairspray".
Thomas Meehan got started as a young man just out of Hamilton College in the mid-1950's when he became a writer on the staff of The New Yorker magazine, to which he contributed dozens of short stories, parodies and comic sketches. Later, after others had adapted several of his pieces from The New Yorker for television, he himself began writing humor for television and was a nominee for and/or winner of four Emmy awards.
Intensely interested in the theater and stage-struck all of his life, he became acquainted while working in television with Martin Charnin, a lyricist and director of Broadway musicals. Charnin then soon introduced him to Charles Strouse, already a two-time Tony-award-winning Broadway composer, and together Meehan (book), Charnin (lyrics and direction) and Strouse (music) created "Annie", one of the most honored musicals in the history of the America theater and an international hit that has been staged over the last twenty-seven years in virtually every country in the world, with the exception, so far, of only Russia and China. For his libretto of "Annie", which opened in 1977, he won both Drama Desk and Tony awards.
Following "Annie", he wrote an updated libretto for a revival of the Gershwins' "Oh, Kay!" and then the libretto of Richard Rodger's final Broadway musical, "I Remember Mama". Other of his librettos include "Ain't Broadway Grand," "Annie 2", and "Annie Warbucks".
In the 1980's, Mr. Meehan spent several years writing film scripts in Los Angeles, and his movie credits include Disney's "One Magic Christmas" and two pictures that he wrote together with Mel Brooks and the late Ronnie Graham, "To Be or Not To Be" and "Spaceballs".
In 1998, Mel Brooks asked him to co-write the libretto of a Broadway musical adaptation of Brooks' classic 1968 comic film, "The Producers." For his libretto with Brooks of "The Producers", which opened in New York on April 19, 2001 to great acclaim, he won his second Drama Desk and Tony awards. "The Producers" in fact won more Tony awards, twelve, than any other show in Broadway history and has been hailed as one of the biggest hits in the history of Broadway.
Only a couple of weeks after "The Producers" won all of its Tonys, he began work on the book of "Hairspray", which he wrote in collaboration with Mark O'Donnell. "Hairspray," a Broadway musical version (with a score by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman) of John Waters' 1989 film of the same name, opened on Broadway in mid-August of 2002 and was yet another huge hit. It indeed won eight Tonys, including "Best Musical" and "Best Book of a Musical", as Mr. Meehan garnered his third double-header of Drama Desk and Tony awards. Most recently, he was again represented on Broadway as the co-bookwriter (with Meera Syall) of the Americanized version of the hit London musical "Bombay Dreams", and he then had the privilege of having three of his musicals running at once on Broadway.
At the moment, Mr. Meehan is at work on several further theatrical projects, including a musical based on Shakespeare's "Othello" and another on John Waters' "Cry-Baby". He also recently completed co-writing the libretto, with prize-winning poet, J.D. McClatchy, of an opera based on George Orwell's "1984", with a score by the internationally acclaimed composer and conductor, Lorin Maazel. The opera will have its world premiere at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London in early May of 2005. Also, with Martin Charnin (lyrics and direction) and Peter Sipos (score), he has written the book of a musical version of "Robin Hood".
He and his wife, Carolyn, divide their time between a home in Nantucket and an apartment in Greenwich Village, near which, on Hudson Street, she owns and presides over the long-running and near-legendary children's store, Peanut Butter & Jane. He has two grown children, Kate and Joe, both now residents of southern California, as well as a trio of stepchildren who have rewarded him with a quartet of absolutely terrific grandchildren - Ella, Thomas, Lily and Cassidy Rose Capstick.