Mark O’Donnell, the Tony Award-winning writer behind such quirky and clever Broadway shows as “Hairspray” and “Cry-Baby,” died Monday. He was 58.
Jack Tantleff, O’Donnell’s agent at the Paradigm agency, said the writer collapsed in the lobby of his apartment complex on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
O’Donnell won the 2003 Tony for best book of a musical for co-writing “Hairspray” with Thomas Meehan, and the pair earned Tony nominations in 2008 for doing the same for another John Waters work, “Cry-Baby.”
O’Donnell was picked to help write the musical version of the 1988 Waters movie “Hairspray” because producer Margo Lion felt he “could appreciate Waters’ voice but was idiosyncratic enough to inject his own personality into the piece.”
His other plays include “That’s It, Folks!” “Fables for Friends,” “The Nice and the Nasty,” “Strangers on Earth,” “Vertigo Park” and the musical “Tots in Tinseltown.”
He wrote two novels, “Getting Over Homer” and “Let Nothing You Dismay,” and published two collections of comic stories, “Elementary Education” and “Vertigo Park and Other Tales.”
He also adapted Georges Feydeau’s “Private Fittings” for the La Jolla Playhouse and a symphonic version of “Pyramus and Thisbe” for the Kennedy Center.
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the George S. Kaufman Award.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.