Friday, December 19, 2014

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Broadway Playwright-Director Arthur Laurents Dies At 93

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Broadway will dim its lights Friday in honor of Arthur Laurents, one of musical theatre's greatest talents, who passed away at the age of 93 Thursday from complications of pneumonia. NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.

Arthur Laurents is considered a founding father of the musical stage, responsible for a pair of musicals that defined the art form. A Brooklyn native, Laurents made his Broadway debut as playwright in 1945 with "Home of the Brave." But it wasn't until the fall of 1957 that Laurents made a true name for himself on the New York boards.

As part of a team made up of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, and Stephen Sondheim, Laurents wrote the book to the Romeo and Juliet inspired musical "West Side Story."

Laurents later reunited with Robbins, Sondheim, and newcomer Jule Styne to create what's widely considered the greatest musical ever made, "Gypsy." The show debuted on the Great White Way in 1959 starring Ethel Merman as the quintessential stage mom.

As a Hollywood screenwriter, Laurents penned the scripts to "The Way We Were" starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in 1973 along with "The Turning Point" in 1977 starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft.

As a director Laurents won great praise and a 1984 Tony Award for the original production of "La Cage Aux Folles." Other notable projects include the infamous musical flops "Anyone Can Whistle" and "Nick and Nora."

In recent years, Laurents returned to his most popular properties "Gypsy" and "West Side Story." He directed celebrated actress Patti LuPone in the 2008 revival of "Gypsy" and he staged the 2009 production of "West Side Story" with some revisions, most notably a libretto in both English and Spanish.

Arthur Laurents was 93 years old.

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