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Finn, William (b. 1952)  
page: 1  2  

Finn used the experience to create his next and most autobiographical work, A New Brain (1998). He managed to create a life-affirming, humor-infused show despite the backdrop of a potentially fatal medical crisis.

The same year saw the premiere of Love's Fire, a compilation of work by seven writers--Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Ntozake Shange, Eric Bogosian, John Guare, Wendy Wasserstein, and Finn--each of whom wrote a segment interpreting one of Shakespeare's sonnets. Finn's piece, Painting You, based on Sonnet 102, which is almost entirely sung, takes a light-hearted look at a gay artist having trouble capturing his lover on canvas. Perhaps because of its unusual structure, the play has received mixed reviews, ranging from delighted to bewildered.

Finn's most recent venture is Elegies (2003), a musical remembrance of loved ones, colleagues, and pets who have died over the past twenty years. Once again Finn takes painful topics, including the loss of his beloved mother and the devastating toll of AIDS among his friends, and creates a celebration of life that critic Stephen Holden calls a "moving and exuberant song suite."

Throughout his career Finn has been compared to Sondheim because of the wit and urbanity of his writing. He has his own distinctive voice, however, and speaks with understanding about confronting life in all its complexity with sadness and joy, dilemmas and hope intermingled.

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Overview:  Musical Theater and Film

The musical has been a significant aspect of American gay male culture, manifesting itself both in diva worship and, more recently, in the presentation of openly gay characters and shows written by gay writers primarily for gay audiences.

literature >> Overview:  Musical Theater

There has always been homosexual involvement in American musical theatre and a homosexual sensibility even in straight musicals, and recently the Broadway musical has welcomed openly homosexual themes and situations.

arts >> Barrowman, John

Accomplished actor and singer John Barrowman has won plaudits as a musical theater star, as well as for his roles in film and television.

literature >> Kushner, Tony

In addition to being a prize-winning playwright, Tony Kushner has become a celebrity spokesman for gay politics and AIDS activism.

arts >> Larson, Jonathan

Although apparently heterosexual, musical theater composer Jonathan Larson wrote sympathetically about a diverse community of artists, many of whom are glbtq.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.

arts >> Sondheim, Stephen

One of the most innovative talents of the musical theater in the second half of the twentieth century, Stephen Sondheim has only indirectly reflected his homosexuality in his work.


Brown, Joe. "The Truth about 'Falsettos'; William Finn and His Coming-out Tragicomedy." Washington Post (May 10, 1992): G1.

Evans, Everett. "'Falsettos' Sings Tradition with a Twist; Tony-winning Musical Depicts Struggle for Love, Support in 'New Family.'" Houston Chronicle (December 19, 1993): Zest section, 8.

Holden, Stephen. "Departed Friends Vibrantly Recalled in Song." New York Times (March 28, 2003): E5.

Pall, Ellen. "The Long-running Musical of William Finn's Life." New York Times (June 14, 1998): 6, 38.

Rich, Frank. "'March of the Falsettos,' A Musical Find." New York Times (April 10, 1981): C3.

Zailian, Marian. "Family Affairs; Tony-winning 'Falsettos' Looks at Changing Relationships." San Francisco Chronicle (April 25, 1993): Sunday Datebook, 34.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Finn, William  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated May 7, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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