Famed Broadway composer Jerry Herman, who wrote Hello Dolly, La Cage Aux Folles, and Mame, has died at 88 at a hospital in Miami, according to his goddaughter Jane Dorian.
The NYT reports: ‘He also made stage history as the first composer-lyricist to have three musicals run more than 1,500 consecutive performances on Broadway — “Hello, Dolly!” with 2,844, “Mame” with 1,508 and “La Cage” with 1,761 — and remains one of only two to achieve that feat. (Stephen Schwartz, with “Pippin,” “The Magic Show” and “Wicked,” is the second.) And “La Cage” (1983) was the only Broadway musical to win the Tony for best revival twice, for 2004 and 2010 productions.’
The L.A. Times adds: ‘“La Cage aux Folles” put him back on top. Based on a French film comedy, the 1983 musical was a humorous but touching love story with a gay couple and transvestism at its heart. Herman’s songs were credited with helping mainstream audiences care about the gay characters, a daring notion at the time. … But AIDS, which decimated the supporting cast of “La Cage aux Folles,” would directly touch the life of Herman, who was openly gay. In the late 1980s, he was diagnosed with HIV and lost his longtime partner Martin Finkelstein to AIDS.’
The NYT adds: ‘Critics — gay and straight — called the show far too cautious, especially at a time when AIDS was becoming a full-blown crisis in America and homophobia was widespread. But Mr. Herman insisted that the musical stage was not a soapbox, and said of the gay community: “One day when they are old and gray they will realize what this show is doing for their cause and send a thank-you note.”’