Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Laurents' Turn: First Gypsy, Then West Side Story

Laurents' Turn: First Gypsy, Then West Side Story

Brimming with more stamina and enthusiasm than some men half his age, Broadway legend Arthur Laurents (age 90) is set to helm not one, but two Rialto revivals next year. According to Playbill, he'll direct both Gypsy and West Side Story in 2008.

The prolific Laurents, of course, wrote the books for both of these classic shows. In the process, this genius collaborated with some of the biggest names ever on the Great White Way including Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins on 1957's paradigm-shifting West Side Story, and then with Sondheim and Jule Styne on 1959's Gypsy. If that weren't enough he's also worked with renowned producers like Hal Prince and David Merrick. And let's not forget the incomparable Ethel Merman.

Now he's apparently fully prepared to take his turn at the helm to show a new generation of theatregoers how these shows should really be done. The maestro's quoted in the Playbill for this year's sold-out Gypsy of the Year Competition concluding this afternoon:
I'm sorry I can't be with you all today. Unfortunately, I have a meeting and it's too late to change. I think everyone will be the winner and if you want a message from me, it's this: I will be directing a production of West Side Story for Broadway next year that will be radically different from any production ever done and contemporary to boot. How? Come see the show.

There -- that's a tease that should sell a few tickets. Meantime, see Gypsy at the St. James beginning in March. Shameless but why not?
Why not indeed. With Laurents and Patti LuPone together, I'll certainly be there.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
LuPone's Mama Rose, Part 3? (October 3, 2007)
At 90, Laurents Has Still "Got It" (July 27, 2007)
Everything's Coming Up Patti! (July 9, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Top Ten Of The Year (June 4, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best Revivals Of Musicals (May 18, 2007)
It's Official: LuPone's Triumph Earns Encores! (March 19, 2007)
Will Encores Mount All-Star Gypsy? (March 2, 2007)
SOB's 6 Singular Sensations Of '06 - #1: Patti LuPone (December 30, 2006)
Gypsy (The SOB Review) (August 14, 2006)

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At 19 December, 2007, Blogger Sarah B. Roberts said...

My impression of him was always that he was a mean, mean old SOB (not offent Steve) too old to die...but then after Patti's Gypsy last summer, I saw him stop and sign stuff for a gaggle of kids who were born DECADES after he created his masterpieces Gypsy and West Side Story. It was heartening for sure. I am very excited to see what he does with West Side Story, although I don't think it needs anything.

At 19 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Sarah, Appreciate the great anecdote!

At 19 December, 2007, Blogger Esther said...

I'm interested to see what Arthur Laurents has up his sleeve. I watched the Oscar-winning short film "West Bank Story," and it was a pretty inspired take on "West Side Story."

At 19 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks for the tip of "West Bank Story." I'll have to check it out!

At 20 December, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arthur Laurents is a mean SOB but he's still an amazing director and playwright.

My favorite Arthur Laurents story is when he came with Sondheim to see Betty Buckly backstage in Paper Mill on opening night of their Gypsy revival. Betty Buckley asked them what they thought (knowing that a veto from them would kabosh the chances of the show going to Broadway). Sondheim diplomatically answered that he enjoyed himself. Laurents reputedly told her " you can forget right now about this production ever leaving New Jersey!".

At 31 December, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

BB - Great story. I can't wait to see what he comes up with for West Side Story!


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