Frank Galati Dies: Broadway’s ‘Ragtime’, ‘Grapes Of Wrath’ Director Was 79

Frank Galati, the Tony Award-winning director of Broadway’s The Grapes of Wrath and nominee for Ragtime, died Monday night. He was 79.

A cause of death was not immediately available.

Galati, who was an associate director at Chicago’s famed Goodman Theatre from 1986 to 2008 and a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company since 1985, was Oscar-nominated, along with co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, for their 1988 screenplay adaptation of Anne Tyler’s novel The Accidental Tourist.

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Galati’s 1990 stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath won the Tony Award for Best Play; Galati also won the award that year for Best Direction. The acclaimed production, which debuted at Steppenwolf before transferring to Broadway, starred Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney, and Lois Smith in Tony-nominated performances.

In 1998, Galati directed the musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, earning a second Tony nomination for Best Direction. The musical, with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, featured a cast that included Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie and Mark Jacoby.

Galati’s other Broadway credits include the 1994 revival of The Glass Menagerie starring Julie Harris, Calista Flockhart and Željko Ivanek; Seussical in 2000; and The Priate Queen starring Stephanie J. Block in 2007. He was inducted into Broadway’s Theater Hall of Fame in 2022.

Among his many Chicago stage credits, Galati directed his adaptation of Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, She Always Said Pablo, A View from the Bridge, The Winter’s Tale, The Good Person of Setzuan and Cry the Beloved Country.

Most recently, he served as an artistic associate at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, where he directed, among other productions, the 2022 musical Knoxville, an adaptation of James Agee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Death in the Family that reunited the director with lyricist Ahrens and composer Flaherty.

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