Arthur Laurents, librettist of West Side Story and Gypsy, and Broadway director died May 5 in his Manhattan home at age 93. He leaves behind a career legacy that changed musical theater forever, but more importantly, contributed to moments that will always live in theatergoers’ hearts. Stage Rush asked readers to submit their cherished memories connected with Laurents’ work and describe how his contribution to the arts affected them. Here is a collected tribute to Arthur Laurents from the people his work touched most—the audience.
If Arthur Laurents had written the libretto for just West Side Story or Gypsy, it would be a great accomplishment. The fact that he was the author of both forever cements his legacy in the world of American musical theatre. The closing performance of the 2003 revival of Gypsy remains one of the most important experiences of my life (for a variety of reasons), and has in many ways led to who I am and where I am this very day. For that, I am eternally grateful.
—Kevin Daly, Theatre Aficionado at Large
When I saw Gypsy in 2008, I truly understood for the first time that this show was an honest-to-God classic.
—Matt Orell, via Facebook
I met Arthur Laurents one time in New York City. I was 15 and I have been in love with his work since I saw West Side Story at age 7. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but he was having dinner with a few people when my aunt and I walked into the restaurant. Needless to say, I was really exited and my aunt thought I was crazy. I was determined to say hi, so after a while, I saw that his table was getting ready to leave, so I walked up to him, to my aunt’s dismay. I told him I loved his plays and his work on musicals most of all. He said he was surprised someone my age would like his stuff (he actually said “stuff”!). I was amazed, and before I could realize what I was saying, I asked if I could get a hug and a kiss, and he said yes! So I got a kiss and a hug from Arthur Laurents!
—Dante Velasco Read more
Arthur Laurents, librettist of West Side Story and Gypsy, and Broadway director died Thursday in his Manhattan home at age 93. He leaves behind a career legacy that changed musical theater forever, but more importantly, contributed to moments that will always live in theatergoers’ hearts. There will be many obituaries and tributes written about him by arts journalists and theater professionals, but Stage Rush is giving you the chance to write your own tribute to the Broadway legend, as a theatergoer.
Submit your own stories and memories of being impacted by Laurents’ work, whether it was in a theater watching one of his productions or listening to the music of his shows at home. What lines touch you the most? Make you laugh? Make you cry? Which of Laurents’ pieces inspires you the most?
Email your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11 p.m. Sunday, May 8, and it will be included in a collected tribute to Laurents on Stage Rush on May 9. Include your name as you want it to appear with your tribute, along with your city and state. For example, either format of “Jesse North, New York, NY”; “J. North, New York, NY”; or “Jesse N., New York, NY” will do.
For reference, here is the link to Arthur Laurents’ Internet Broadway Database page.