Gail Merrifield Papp was born in San Francisco into a family with a deep theater lineage. After joining Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival in 1965, she became Director of New Works Development for the Public Theater and was responsible for some of its best-remembered productions. These include The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning play about the AIDS crisis, for which she received the Human Rights Campaign Arts and Communication Award, and Rupert Holmes’s Tony Award-winning Best Musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Gail Merrifield and Joseph Papp were married in 1976.