Arthur Laurents Breaks Sam Mendes’ Musical Bones???Date: 14 August 2007
Broadway writing legend Arthur Laurents has hit out hard at British stage and screen director Sam Mendes. At the age of 90, Laurents decided to direct a new New York production of his classic 1959 musical Gypsy this summer, in an attempt to right the wrongs of Mendes’ Broadway revival starring Bernadette Peters four years ago.
Laurents told the New York Post: "I thought Sam did a terrible disservice to Bernadette and the play, and I wanted a Gypsy seen in New York that was good … You have to have musical theatre in your bones and Sam doesn't. You can't put it there. I know. I tried. I gave Sam many notes, but he just couldn't do it."
That may come as news to Mendes’ fans. While the former Donmar Warehouse artistic director may be better known for his work on plays and Oscar-winning Hollywood films such as American Beauty, his additional musical credits include award-winning productions of Oliver!, Assassins, Company and Cabaret, which transferred to Broadway where it won four Tony Awards and ran for six years.
Laurents’ New York City Centre Encores! production of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone, had rave reviews for its limited season last month and is now tipped for a further life and possible London transfer (See The Goss, 17 Jul 2007). The musical has a book by Laurents (who also wrote West Side Story), music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.