Thursday, December 31, 2009

WIlliam May

A dear friend and business associate passed away today - he was a shooting star that crashed to earth but will always be looking down on us - a creative talent and I considered him a dear friend, Over the past two years we had been working on a new project and I will miss those calls with Billy - he was always so excited about a new twist or turn in the script - a new character or two - always thinking of some new way to get the point across. You will be missed my friend.

Below is the official release on his passing.......

William H. “Billy” May, world-renowned entertainment producer, director and composer, died at 1:45am on Thursday, December 31st, 2009 at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.  Mr. May’s death follows a recent illness.

May’s talents and creations crossed many frontiers—from writing, composing, conceiving, designing, architecture and special events, to theatre and arena events.  His reputation as an artistic director was colored by a driving passion to give children and families the experience of wonderment, and to ignite their imagination to dream.  His motto was: “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” 

In the past 30 years, he and partner Malcolm Cooke produced more than 40 theatrical productions, from New York’s Broadway to London's famed West End.   These acclaimed stage shows included the musical Always, the love story of King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson, for which May co-wrote the book, music and lyrics; Boswell for the Defence, which starred the late Leo McKern as James Boswell; The Hobbit; and The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe.

His latest award-winning creation, “Walking With Dinosaurs - The Live Experience,” is a ground-breaking arena show that transports audiences back 65 million years to literally walk with15 realistic dinosaurs, from Brachiosaurus to a life-size T-Rex.  This production is one of the largest and most acclaimed shows to come out of Australia, and is currently touring two productions in North America and Europe.  

May came from a large family of four brothers, two sisters, and at various times, ten foster children.  By the age of twelve, May was awarded scholarships to the prestigious Carnegie Hall for dance, and to the New York High School of Performing Arts (aka FAME).  As a teen, May honed his abilities as a performer, composer and writer, touring with such acts as Sonny and Cher and the Osmond Brothers.  By age 19, he’d ventured to Australia, where he became partnered with producer Malcolm Cooke to discover and manage Australian singer Samantha Sang.  May enlisted the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb to write and produce a song for Sang, resulting in the 1977 multi-platinum international hit, “Emotion.”   At age 24, May returned to New York, becoming the youngest producer on the Great White Way with his Broadway musical debut Marilyn - An American Fable, the life story of Marilyn Monroe.

May was also devoted to several philanthropic endeavors involving children, including being an ambassador for Australia’s TLC for Kids, The Lighthouse Foundation and The Royal Children’s Hospital, as well as Think Pink, which supports women living with breast cancer.


  1. This is very sad news. I composed music and lyrics for 'Marilyn, An American Fable' and Bill was always a great supporter and effusive cheerleader! I still tell stories about him, as he was enthusiastic, over the top and hilarious. No matter what challenges confronted us during the show, he was always positive and upbeat. It's always great to work with someone who has fierce determination and a wry wit. Bill's energy, creativity and sparkling personality will be missed.
    Beth Lawrence,

  2. Oh Harry - Very sad to hear this. His courageous creativity and optimism was an inspiration to so many. Sorry that you have lost a dear friend.

  3. I am so sorry Harry, my thoughts are with you and all those who'se lives have been touched by this creative force.

  4. Dear Harry,
    I was so sorry to hear about Billy's passing. I was the original Marilyn in "Marilyn an American Fable" I loved working with Billy he was a HUGH LIGHT in the world. At times I was sure he wanted to be Marilyn. I will remember him fondly. Love, Geralyn