Born on April 14, 1960, in Washington D.C., and raised in suburban Maryland, Dick Scanlan is a musical theatre writer, director, and actor. Scanlan first received acclaim for playing the drag role of Miss Great Plains in the 1991 Off-Broadway musical Pageant, which playfully parodied the institution of the beauty pageant.
In the years since, Scanlan has written songs, short stories, and librettos. He is most famous for collaborating with Richard Morris and Jeanine Tesori and serving as the lyricist and co-book writer of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Scanlan and Tesori additionally wrote the song “The Girl in 14G” for Let Yourself Go, actress Kristin Chenoweth’s debut album. He also co-wrote Sherie Rene Scott’s “stage memoir” Everyday Rapture and reworked Meredith Willson’s 1960 musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown (with a book by his Millie collaborator, Morris) to better represent the actual Molly Brown’s life for a production directed by the Tony Award-winning Kathleen Marshall.
Scanlan also writes short stories and nonfiction articles that have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Theatre Week, and Best American Gay Fiction. His novel, Does Freddy Dance, was well-received and chronicles the life of Freddy who discovers musical theatre (and Julie Andrews, in particular) in his youth and then travels to New York to become a theatre professional, ultimately losing his lover to AIDS.
Scanlan discovered he was HIV-positive in 1983 and 12 years later was diagnosed with AIDS. He credits his longevity with the disease to the medications he takes as well as his intense motivation to live his life to the fullest. He lives with his partner, Alan Effron, in New York City, and is the co-founder of artsINSIDEOUT, an organization that sends American theatre artists to Johannesburg, South Africa, to work with HIV-affected and infected children.
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