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Frank Galati, Tony-Winning Director of The Grapes of Wrath and Ragtime, Dies at 79

Galati was a pillar of the Chicago theater scene, working regularly with both Steppenwolf and the Goodman Theatre.

Frank Galati
(image via Asolo Rep)

Tony-winning director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Frank Galati has died at the age of 79, according to reports from friends and colleagues.

On Broadway, Galati was known for his epics. His Tonys came for adapting and directing John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in 1990, a production that originated at Chicago's Steppenwolf, where he'd been an ensemble member since 1985.

He also staged the original productions of Ragtime and Seussical, part of an ongoing collaboration with writers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Another production with Ahrens and Flaherty included the musical Knoxville, which premiered in 2022 at Asolo Rep, where Galati was an associate artist.

In his home state of Illinois, Galati also served as an associate director at the Goodman Theatre from 1986 to 2008, staging She Always Said Pablo, The Winter's Tale, The Good Person of Setzuan, and Cry the Beloved Country, among other works. He helmed early productions of Kander and Ebb's The Visit, as well as Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul and received nine Jefferson Awards over the course of his career for his work in Chicago theater.

Galati earned an Oscar nomination for his screenplay of the film The Accidental Tourist. He was a professor emeritus in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, which houses his papers.

Galati is survived by his partner, Peter Amster.

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