As 2017 draws to a close, TheaterMania looks back on some of the most jaw-dropping stories of the year.

Composer Michael Friedman
Composer Michael Friedman
(© Tristan Fuge)

Michael Friedman's brain worked faster than he could talk — and there never seemed to be a period at the end of his sentences. Being in the presence of the composer-lyricist responsible for musicals like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Pretty Filthy, and Fortress of Solitude made you realize that he wasn't simply talking about the project in front of him. He was interested in the statement it made in the larger world, the other ways in which that statement could be made, and how we could make art out of all of that when the world was already art. When all of his questions started off that big, it was clear that Friedman was operating on a frequency higher than the average person.

So when we suddenly learned of his death on September 9 at the age of 41, it wasn't just a shock, it was a punch in the face to the world of theater. The punch landed extra hard when it was revealed Friedman had died of complications due to HIV/AIDS.

What we are left with is his art: his own metaphor for love, with rhythms that beat in time with the heart and lyrics as witty, poignant, and plentiful as the words that spilled from his mouth. It's all we can grab on to, so let us never let it go.