Ira Gasman, a two-time Tony Award nominee who wrote the book and lyrics to the Cy Coleman-scored 1997 musical The Life, died October 6 in Norfolk, Virginia, at age 76. The news was confirmed by his friend, David Alpern.
Based on an idea by Gasman, the unlikely musical about the lives of pimps and prostitutes in a bygone 1980s Times Square earned critical acclaim and garnered 12 Tony Award nominations for its 1997 Broadway premiere—the most of any show that season—and earning wins for performers Lillias White and Chuck Cooper.
The musical also won the Drama Desk Award that year for Outstanding Musical.
It was also Gasman’s idea to adapt the life of New York City pop art icon Keith Haring into a stage musical, collaborating with composer Debra Barsha on the short-lived Radiant Baby, which premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 1993.
He was the co-writer of the popular Off-Broadway musical revue What’s a Nice Country Like You–Doing in a State Like This? with composer Cary Hoffman.