'West Side Story' Playwright Arthur Laurents Dies
By Kelly Fisher Posted May 6th 2011 06:25AM
According to the New York Times, Laurent died Thursday from pneumonia complications at his Manhattan home. He was 93.
Though his work can be found across many genres, Laurents spent the majority of his career -- 65 years -- writing and directing plays, and did so up until just two years ago.
After several less successful endeavors, his big break came in 1957 with 'West Side Story,' his new spin on the classic 'Romeo and Juliet' story. Laurents took his play to composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and together they created the unforgettable Broadway hit.
"What we really did stylistically with 'West Side Story' was take every musical theater technique as far as it could be taken," Laurents wrote in his 2009 memoir, 'Mainly on Directing: 'Gypsy,' 'West Side Story' and Other Musicals.' "Scene, song and dance were integrated seamlessly; we did it all better than anyone ever had before."
In 1959, Laurents created another musical, 'Gypsy,' which many consider one of Broadway's best. Laurents was also involved in the direction of several successful revival shows of 'Gypsy' after its initial premiere.
Laurent's first novel, 'The Way We Were,' was published in 1972 and he wrote the screenplay for the romantic 1973 film starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.
After dabbling in film, Laurent spent his last decades involved with various other plays and musicals. His last play, 'Come Back, Come Back, Wherever You Are,' premiered off-Broadway in the spring of 2009.
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