Arthur Laurents was the architect of the great American musical.
He wrote some of the greatest shows on earth, including the books to Gypsy and West Side Story. But he did more than write musicals. He directed them too. And he directed movies. And he wrote movies . . . and plays and books and he was still doing it all until he passed away yesterday . . . at the age of 93.
Two of those ninety-three years would be more of a career than most of us could ever dream about.
The G word is thrown about a little too often in my opinion, but for Mr. Laurents, it’s more than applicable.
The man was a Genius.
He also wasn’t the easiest guy in the world to get along with. And I think he’d be proud to tell you just that. (Don’t believe me? Read his autobiography.) If he didn’t like you, you were toast. I had the pleasure of working with him on the Gypsy revival with Bernadette Peters in 2003 and luckily, I was more of a bagel.
But the thing is . . . Whether he was difficult, or easy . . . doesn’t matter, because there was one thing that he was 99.99% of the time whenever he was talking about the theater.
He was . . . right.
In the handful of conversations I had with him, I learned more about musical theater than I could in any book or any classroom.
Broadway lost a forefather yesterday. Someone pick a theater and name it after him already.
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