New York Dishes on Arthur Laurents’ Broadway Comeback

Laurents2

As his West Side Story returns to Broadway following the recent revival of Gypsy with Patti Lupone, New York magazine serves up a big profile on 91-year-old Arthur Laurents, big on details of both revivals and Laurents' relationships with his collaborators, rivals, enemies, and late longtime partner:

Laurents
"A conversation with Laurents is dishy fun, as long as you aren’t
worried about collateral damage. (An ex-friend: “He always wants to
suck you into his malevolent opinions of someone; you have a choice to
agree and feel hypocritical or disagree and get dropped.”) His mastery
of the writer’s zoom lens for the unimprovable detail is always
evident: the musical he and his partner, Tom Hatcher (pictured, left, with Laurents in 1962), took Laurents’s
parents to see when they met—She Loves Me; the stack of “how to stop drinking” books on a table as martinis are served at eleven in the morning. You
hardly realize that while you were being distracted by such treats, the
seducer has rotated his anecdotes 90 degrees; wherever they started,
they now star him. And he knows exactly how to play the Robert Redford
role of glamorous writer. His five years in the Army, he says, were
partly spent “writing and drinking and screwing my head off” in a radio
unit “created for me.” A story about his analysis ends up suggesting
that Laurents himself is indirectly responsible for the removal of
homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of
perversions. If
provocation is Laurents’s default mode, his life experience long ago
taught him the value, and perhaps the necessity, of unashamedness. Even
in the fifties he was audacious enough to put Hatcher—a drop-dead hunk
of a model turned actor he met selling clothes at a Beverly Hills men’s
store—in some of his plays. But living openly as a gay man (and a lefty
atheist Jew to boot) was only the start of it."

I've posted some shots of the West Side Story revival here and here.

The NY mag article goes more into Laurents' relationship with Hatcher, who died in 2006 of lung cancer: "After 52 years together, Laurents understandably sees his partner’s
hand in everything he does. Until Hatcher died, Laurents didn’t even
have an ATM card. And it was Hatcher who convinced him to direct the
LuPone Gypsy, so that Mendes’s version wouldn’t be the last
one seen on Broadway in Laurents’s life. Part enforcer, part enabler,
part keeper of the flame and of the grudges, Hatcher made Laurents’s
writing life possible and somehow still would."

When You're a Shark, You're a Shark All the Way [new york magazine]

Comments

  1. Derrick from Philly says

    Interesting. I had never heard of Arthur Laurents. Some people don’t mind speaking their minds even if everyone hates you for it…of course, your mind may not always a nice mind.

    Oh, Happy Birthday, JIMMYBOYO! That Arthur Laurents could have never been a Pisces. He was too mean….musta’ been a Scorpio or Leo. Bet Jerome Robbins was too.

  2. JohnInManhattan says

    I’ve been at quite a few events where Laurents was in attendance. Talented, yes, but an absolutely cunt of a man. He pisses negativity from his pores.

  3. rudy says

    Laurents is a first class, grade A, four star, bitch on wheels. That was tolerable when he was younger and let his abundant talent overcome his spiteful and vicious nature. In his dottage, however, no one dares tell him that the emperess no longer has clothes. E.g., His “updating” of the “Gypsy” and “West Side Story” revivals nearly ruined these classic musicals.

    In contrast, Jerome Robbins, who was also at least as mean a son of a bitch, surrounded himself with friends who managed to keep his ego in check. Laurents has alienated his associates to the extent that all he permits to his audiences-with-lesser-beings are yes boys. He may have been a role model in his youth but he has become a cautionary tale. And, yes, I know of which I speak; I worked with Jerome Robbins and Laurents–Bernstein also–when I was still dancing.

  4. Derrick from Philly says

    Thanks, Rudy, for the low down on the old man. Why are some of these Broadway icons such mean old male bitches (Laurents & Robbins)? Could their homo status have anything to do with their meaness (you know, paranoia), or the anti-semitism they faced as boys, or BOTH? How come they couldn’t be nice gay men…like Stephen Sondheim?

    Well, atleast Laurents wasn’t a racist. He made Leslie Uggams a star.

  5. Leland Frances says

    With apologies to Shakespeare, I come not to praise Laurents but to bury Robbins.

    He, too, wasn’t just such a monstre sacré [who, allegedly, while “haranguing a cast, stepped backward on stage and fell into the orchestra pit—and nobody made a move to help him”] but the one in that circle of artistic geniuses who “named names” before HUAC. Look it up, kids, and learn of one of the darkest, most evil periods in American history in which even a whiff of ALLEGED “communist affiliation” destroyed careers and, in some cases, literally lives. Bush fils Inc. longed for a modern variation re “terrorist sympathizers”.]

    And, yes, the “Red Scare” wars were permeated with homohatred [even if Roy Cohn and, some claim, McCarthy, himself, kissed boys]—throughout history “sexual deviance” has been associated with anti-________ism [fill in the country].

    There are those who claim more gay lives were hurt by the government’s parallel ban on gay employees [Eisenhower’s Executive Order affected employees of companies with federal contracts, too] than by condemnations of nongays for whatever reason.

    Robbins feared the government would out him, and so HE sang like Louise and any crediting of his genuine brilliance should always be accompanied by crucifixion for his self-serving cowardice.

    And, for the record, gay icons Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, Bruce Voeller, and nongay Dr. Judd Marmur were responsible for the American Psychiatric Association removal of gays from their official “sick” list—an accomplishment, in my opinion, that did more to accelerate our progress toward full equality than any other.

    And, thanks D: HAPPY B-DAY, JIMMY DEAN JIMMY DEAN!

  6. says

    I’ve always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder with Mr. Laurents. He was not kind to Stephen Sondheim after the debacles that were Anyone Can Whistle and Do I Hear a Waltz? I’ve heard stories that the two cannot be in the same room with each other for fear that it’ll come to blows (I wonder if Patti LuPone managed to keep them civil at the final performance of GYPSY?).

    As always my allegiance is with Mr. Steve. The man got me through an awkward adolescence and inspired me as an artist in ways I am still surprised about 18 years later.

  7. FixItAgainTony says

    Tom Hatcher is (er.. WAS) a HUNK. Like someone else said, Laurents must have had some redeeming qualities. Perhaps they were not as apparent when he sat in his office.
    Nevertheless, Congratulations to Mr. Laurents for reaching 91. Remarkable.

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