Innaurato was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1947. After graduating from Temple University and California Institute of the Arts, Innaurato attended the Yale School of Drama. He was awarded the Guggenheim Grant, the Rockefeller Grant and two National Endowment for the Arts grants.
Innaurato collaborated with Christopher Durang on The Idiots Karamazov, I Don't Normally Like Poetry but Have You Read "Trees"?, and Gyp, the Real-Life Story of Mitzi Gaynor while both were students at Yale University's School of Drama. They performed in all three plays, often as women dressed as priests. At Yale they frequently appeared in plays with their Drama School classmates Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and their friend, Wendy Wasserstein. I Don't Normally Like Poetry but Have You Read "Trees"? played in 1973 at the Manhattan Theatre Club.
In 1976, he drew critical attention for the Playwrights Horizons staging of his play Gemini. A year later, after some cast changes, the play was produced at PAF Playhouse on Long Island. That production subsequently was presented off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory Company, opening March 8, 1977, where it was acclaimed by the major New York critics. The Circle Rep production transferred to Broadway, where it ran for 1819 performances and earned him an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding New American Play. The screen adaptation, which Innaurato did not write, was released in 1980 under the title Happy Birthday, Gemini. Showtime filmed the play as written with members of the original cast.
Gemini was controversial in its time for its frankness about and advocacy of tolerance for homosexuality. It also addresses the difficulties of the acculturation process, and the tensions caused by the different perspectives and values of second and third generation Americans as the hero, a Harvard student, attempts to navigate between American and Italian-American culture.
In 2006, Innaurato's hit play was turned into a musical, Gemini: The Musical and presented at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia, starring Robert Picardo, Linda Hart, Anne DeSalvo, Barry James, Jillian Louis, Jeremiah Downes and Todd Buonopane. Innaurato has described this adventure as a 'bad mistake' (conversation with the author).
Other stage plays
The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie, which provided James Coco with one of his best roles and earned Innaurato another Obie and a second Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding New American Play, has been produced twice off-Broadway, Innaurato's production at Playwrights' Horizons starring Peter Evans won a rave from critic Frank Rich. It was performed in London, where Innaurato directed, Italy, Spain, and Israel.
Additional theatre credits include Passione at both Playwrights Horizons (where Innaurato directed) and on Broadway (directed by Frank Langella), Magda and Callas, Coming of Age in Soho (directed by Innaurato twice at Joseph Papp's Public Theater), Gus and Al (given two runs at Playwrights' Horizons), and Dreading Thekla. Early plays, still considered obscene and difficult like Earthworms, Urlicht and Wisdom Amok were collected along with Gemini and Benno Blimpie in an Avon book called Bizarre Behavior. Coming of Age in Soho along with Gemini and Benno Blimpie were collected in a Gay Press edition called The Best Plays of Albert Innaurato.
Innaurato's television credits include The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and Verna: USO Girl, which garnered him an Emmy Award nomination. He was a frequent contributor of short plays to PBS in the 1980s, including the Trying Times episode "Death and Taxes", starring Sally Kellerman. He adapted the book and wrote new lyrics for a broadcast of the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin/Moss Hart musical Lady in the Dark. He worked with Byron Janis on a musical treatment of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, given in Cuba as part of a cultural exchange.
Innaurato adapted Puccini's La rondine for Lincoln Center. He is a frequent contributor to parterre box, The New York Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and Newsday. He was a very frequent contributor to Opera News in the 90's. For the Metropolitan Opera Guild, produced by Paul Gruber, he recorded 20 tapes/CDs of opera from Carmen to Death in Venice, some with him at the piano. He has lectured for the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He taught playwriting at Columbia University in the Graduate School for eight years, and has also taught at Princeton University, the Yale School of Drama, Temple University and Rutgers.
Innaurato is currently Artistic Director of Creative Development Projects at Center City Opera Theater in Philadelphia. He has contributed to the development as dramaturg and director of workshops of new operas such as Paul's Case by Gregory Spears, Love/Hate by Rob Bailis and Jack Perla, Slaying the Dragon by Michael Ching, The Great Blondin by Ronald Vigue to which he contributed the libretto, and other works.
- "This isn't a Play" by Caroline V. McGraw, Annual Magazine of Yale School of Drama, 2010/11, pp. 28–30
- Manhattan Theatre Club records 1964–2004, New York Public Library
- Happy Birthday, Gemini at the Internet Movie Database
- "Innaurato and Pintauro: Two Italian-American Playwrights" by Carol Bonomo Ahearn, The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, Vol. 16, No. 3, Ethnic Theater, (Autumn 1989 – Autumn 1990), pp. 113–125
- "For a Playwright Long Gone From New York Theaters, a Small Step Back" by Eric Grode, The New York Times, August 1, 2014
- on YouTube
- Albert Innaurato at parterre box