Goodnight. Goodnight. Sleep well . . . Arthur Laurents.

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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  • Allie says:

    Ken, thank you for this wonderful tribute. Arthur Laurents helped shape the plays and productions that were a huge influence on me as a theatergoer and helped me to solidify that I definitely want to work in the theater. I get that he could be a difficult man and did some terrible things, but there is no denying his impact on the American theater. I can easily say that I would not be the theater aficionado I am if it hadn’t been for Arthur Laurents. So again, thank you for writing this. It is very true and fitting.

  • Funny, I’m a man who loves…. Seriously, when people ask me after my 39 years in theatre “what is your favorite musical?” my response is “That’s a difficult question. There are so many that I love. But, there’s WEST SIDE STORY and then there’s the rest of musical theatre.” Thank you Mr. Laurents. RIP

  • Michael says:

    When I went to see the original production of Into the Woods, a man sitting directly behind me kept talking to the person next to him. At intermission I stood up and turned around to face him and ask him to keep quiet, but I recognized him immediately–Arthur Laurents–and decided not to say anything. The only comment I can remember came when the Baker’s Wife was killed and a huge backdrop crashed to the floor. He was thrilled and blurted out “My God, what a coup de theatre!”

  • nina Faso says:

    Ive known and worked with Arthur since 2971/ you really nailed it. He was a genius, he could be mean as a snake,but he was right.that was the most bankable piece of starduxt that Broawy is based on and Arthur was pure stardust.

  • sewa mobil says:

    Nice article, thanks for the information.

  • I always have a problem with people like this. I can appreciate a genius like Laurents, but I don’t think being a genius gives you the right to be rude or mean to others.
    But then, I guess no one is perfect.

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