HELEN MEIER ADDS:
For 30 years, she collaborated on industrials, plays, musicals and other projects with writing partner and fellow Northwestern University graduate Doug Frew, who is now executor of her writing. They shared book and lyric credits and worked with various composers over the years. For three seasons, Ms. McKenny, Frew and David Roe wrote for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” McKenny and Frew’s musical about George Sand, Becoming George, with composer Linda Eisenstein, was chosen for the Pages to Stages development program at the Kennedy Center and premiered in spring 2006 at Metro Stage in Alexandria, VA. Their musical 90 North, written with composer Daniel Sticco, won ASCAP’s 1997 Outstanding New Musical Award, was nominated for the Sammy Cahn Lyricist Award, and helped launch ASCAP’s “In the Works” new musicals program at the Kennedy Center in 2000 with artistic director Stephen Schwartz. Her other works include Lady Lovelace’s Objection (with Doug Frew) and a 1920s Chicago-set play, Towertown, completed in 2007.
With Frew and Andrew Hansen, she won the After Dark Award and was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for incidental music and lyrics in She Stoops to Conquer at Northlight Theatre.
In addition to narrative musical theatre works, she wrote standalone songs with many composers, and her songs were sought by Chicago cabaret performers, including Kat Taylor.
Ms. McKenny was a co-founder of Studiomedia recording studio, a member of Chautauqua Preservation Society, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and an active member of Chicago Women in Publishing.