‘Brilliant,’ 41 and Lost to AIDS: The Theater World Asks Why

Mr. Friedman’s death from complications of H.I.V./AIDS has rattled the theater world, both because he was seen as among the brightest lights of his generation and because it shocked those who had come to see H.I.V. infection as a chronic but manageable condition, at least for those with health care.

“It feels like a brutal reminder of another time,” said Jonathan Marc Sherman, a playwright and friend. “It’s going to be a long time for a lot of us to wrap our minds around this one.”

Best known for the 2010 Broadway musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Mr. Friedman leaves behind several uncompleted shows, including a musical adaptation of “All the President’s Men” — a project he had excitedly presented in June to the book’s receptive authors, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

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Mr. Friedman, center, in 2013 with two of his collaborators: the directors Steve Cosson, left, and Alex Timbers.

Credit
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

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Mr. Friedman performing his work in 2010 as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series.

Credit
Richard Termine for The New York Times

Now his friends and family are struggling to rewind the events of the summer, asking what they, or Mr. Friedman, could have done in response to signs of trouble.

“I wish I could have done more,” said the director Michael Greif (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “Rent”). “I wish I had known more. I wish I could have interceded more. I wish that I could have found a way to let Michael let me be a better friend to him, and I regret that I wasn’t able to do that.”

Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater, where Mr. Friedman worked off and on for 20 years, called his death “a real…

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