May is a mad month. A month of random musings about various topics related to musical theatre. Feel free to share your thoughts on each topic in the comment box below.
Was Arthur Laurents a Genius?
Since Arthur Laurents died yesterday, the word genius has been thrown around a lot. It made me reflect on the man’s career and, while I know some people aren’t going to like what I have to say, this is what I think.
The career of Arthur Laurents was bookended by the same two great shows, each of which owes least to his particular contributions. His work in between was of varying consistency. As a legitimate and legendary writer, his career was over many years ago, and his choices as a director were sometimes misguided. So his brilliance, his genius, is inconsistent, unlike his ability to hurt people one would assume to be his colleagues and friends, which seems to gave been remarkably consistent over the years. It’s not for nothing that half of New York is singing “Ding dong the witch is dead” even as other proclaim his genius.
In short, yes I am grateful for what he gave to the theatre and I respect his work on the books of West Side Story and Gypsy. Do I think he is worthy of theatrical martyrdom? Do I think his work is unmatched or irreplaceable? Sorry, but no.