The Public Theater, where Friedman was an artist in residence and director of the Public Forum, announced the news. The Public Theater is also where “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” made its New York premiere in 2009, before hitting Broadway the next year.
“Michael Friedman was one of the most brilliant, multi-talented theater artists of our time,” Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement. “He was also a miracle of a human being: loving, kind, generous, hilarious, thrilling. His loss leaves a hole in the theater world that cannot be filled, and a hole in the hearts of those who loved him that will last forever.”
“Michael brought so much joy and beauty and humor to our lives,” added his sister Marion Friedman Young. “To lose him so soon is devastating. We are so grateful to the people who loved him, made art with him, and were so supportive of his work, and made it possible for Michael’s extraordinary gifts to reach so many people.”
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” followed Jackson’s controversial White House run, and delved into his populist approach as well as his relationship with his wife, Rachel. Alex Timbers wrote the book for the musical, which is often credited for catapulting Ben Walker to stardom for his role in the critically acclaimed show.
Friedman was also co-founder of the Civilians theater company, with which he wrote music and lyrics for “Canard Canard Goose,” “Nobody’s Lunch,” “Gone Missing, “In the Footprint,” “This Beautiful City,” and “The Great Immensity.” He additionally served as artistic director of Encores! Off-Center at New York City Center.
Other credits include “Saved,” an Off-Broadway musical based on the 2004 film, and “In the Bubble,” “The Brand New Kid,” “God’s Ear,” and “The Blue Demon.”
Along with his sister, he is survived by his parents Carolyn and John Friedman and his nephew John Henry Young.