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Mantello, Joe (b. 1962)    
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Mantello and McNally teamed up on several more productions, including the 1998 Off Broadway premiere of Corpus Christi, a highly contentious drama featuring a Christ-like figure who is gay. Due to the play's perceived anti-Christian content, the show's creative team received a barrage of anonymous threats of violence and members of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights organized protests outside the theater during the entire run of the show.

The two men also collaborated on productions of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (2002); the musical A Man of No Importance (2002), with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, about an amateur theater group in Dublin who are determined to stage a version of Oscar Wilde's Salome in a church, despite objections from church authorities; and the 2007 revival of The Ritz, a farce set within a gay men's bathhouse.

Mantello was scheduled to direct the 2010 revival of Lips Together, Teeth Apart, McNally's play about . The production was postponed indefinitely, however, when the actress Megan Mullally, one of the play's four stars, abruptly quit, complaining about the alleged incompetence of one of the other actors.

Mantello also directed McNally and Jake Heggie's opera Dead Man Walking, based on Sister Helen Prejean's memoir of the same name about working with Louisiana death-row inmates, which premiered in 2000 at the San Francisco Opera.

Take Me Out

In 2003, Mantello won his first Tony Award, for Best Direction of a Play, for his work on Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out, a comedy-drama about gay men in professional team sports.

The play, which first opened Off Broadway and was quickly transferred to a Broadway venue, focuses on the discomfort that arises when a star player on a major-league baseball team casually announces his homosexuality in a press conference.

The confusion and self-consciousness felt by the gay ballplayer's fellow teammates is demonstrated in several locker room and shower scenes with protracted displays of male nudity. For example, in one scene, a ballplayer emerges from a shower complaining vigorously that having a gay teammate will now make him uncomfortable being naked in the locker room, but throughout the scene he never covers up.

Mantello added further instances of male nudity to what was already indicated in Greenberg's script, as Bruce Weber noted in the New York Times, "as a way of underscoring that the 'problem' posed by a gay man among straight men is, for the straight men, merely in their heads—not so much a problem in and of itself but a representation of other insecurities."

In addition to Mantello's Tony Award for Best Direction, Take Me Out won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play. The production also won the 2003 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, with Mantello receiving a nomination for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play. Mantello also won the 2003 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director, for the original, Off Broadway production of Take Me Out.

Mantello also directed the 2006 Broadway revival of Greenberg's drama Three Days of Rain, starring the movie star Julia Roberts in her Broadway debut, and the 2008 revival of the Richard Rogers-Lorenz Hart musical Pal Joey, with a new libretto by Greenberg, based on the original by John O'Hara.

Wicked and Assassins

In late 2003, Mantello directed his first Broadway musical, Wicked, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and libretto by Winnie Holzman. It went on to become one of the most successful musicals ever to run on Broadway.

Wicked is a musical deconstruction of the L. Frank Baum Oz tales, as well as the 1939 Judy Garland film The Wizard of Oz, and loosely based on Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995).

The musical starred Idina Menzel in an award-winning performance as Elphaba, the future "Wicked Witch of the West," and Kristin Chenoweth as Elphaba's rival, Glinda, the "Good Witch of the North," with Joel Grey as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Mantello won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical and the Outer Critics Circle Award, given by critics working for non-New York City media outlets, for Outstanding Director of a Musical. He was also nominated for a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical.

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