Award-Winning Off-Broadway Composer and Musical Director, Dead at 49
By Kenneth Jones
January 24, 2005
Dick Gallagher, a trusted accompanist, musical director and Off-Broadway composer, died Jan. 20 in Manhattan after a long illness, according to friends in the New York theatre community.Mr. Gallagher was 49. In addition to working with many performers in the cabaret community, Mr. Gallagher (with Mark Waldrop) wrote the plucky scores for the Off-Broadway revues What Not, Whoop-Dee-Doo! and — his greatest hit — When Pigs Fly.
What Not won the 1990 Richard Rodgers Production Award and Whoop-Dee-Doo! was the winner of the 1993 Outer Critics Circle Award.
Waldrop and Mr. Gallagher created When Pigs Fly with designer Howard Crabtree, whose outrageous costumes and co-conception wowed audiences at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre (and later regionally and around the world). The show was about putting on a show and pursuing a life in musical theatre — no matter what the obstacles.
Bette Midler recorded one of the songs from that score, “Laughing Matters.” The show was produced internationally after an extended run in New York, having won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revue, and the Drama Desk Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical.
Mr. Gallagher’s scores have been preserved on cast albums. Whoop-Dee-Doo! (also with Howard Crabtree) also won the 1994 Drama Desk Award for Best Revue.
The composer also wrote the words and music for the Off-Broadway musical Have I Got a Girl for You: The Frankenstein Musical, and the title song for the Charles Busch comedy, You Should Be So Lucky.
With Mark Waldrop, Mr. Gallagher also wrote two musicals for the Theatreworks/USA: Gold Rush and A Christmas Carol. He also wrote several songs for the revue That’s Life!
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, he graduated with honors from the Northwestern University School of Music. He received his masters degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign.
When he came to New York City, he played piano for performers at such choice venues as Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, the Oak Room at the Algonquin, Rainbow & Stars, the Carlyle, The Russian Tea Room and elsewhere. He created musical arrangements for Liza Minnelli, Karen Akers, Liliane Montevecchi, Julie Wilson, Hildegard, Bruce Vilanch, Andrea Marcovicci, David Staller, Charles Busch, Karen Mason, Sally Mayes, Lina Koutrakos, Laura Kenyon, Mandy Patinkin, KT Sullivan, Jeff Harnar and Philip Officer among others.
He won many MAC cabaret awards — more than any other pianist, according to colleagues.
For the last several years Mr. Gallagher has been arranger, accompanist and conductor for Patti LuPone. Along with writer-director Scott Wittman he created several shows for LuPone, which they performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center on Broadway (Patti LuPone on Broadway) and in cabaret appearances and concerts internationally.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Actors Fund of America in his name.