Mainly on Directing

Mainly on Directing

Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other Musicals

by Arthur Laurents


“A book that, in its frankness and warmth, is both a professional manual and a moving elegy.”

The New York Times Book Review

 As a playwright, screenwriter, and director, Arthur Laurents has a unique place in the history of theater. In this moving, exhilarating, and provocative account, Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other Musicals (November 2014, Applause Books, $16.99), Laurents presents readers with a front-row look at the making of two of the greatest musicals of the American stage, West Side Story and Gypsy. He writes in rich detail about his bilingual production of West Side Story, as well as his final production of Gypsy, how it began as an act of love, and how that love spread through the entire company and resulted in a Gypsy unlike any other.

Laurents offers behind-the-scenes details about the musicals he directed, including I Can Get It for You Wholesale, its producer David Merrick (the “Abominable Showman”), and its (very young) stars, Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould. He dishes on Stephen Sondheim’s Anyone Can Whistle, which starred Angela Lansbury and Lee Remick, and marked the debut for each in musical theater. He also recounts the challenges and surprises that came with the making of La Cage aux Folles, the first big Broadway musical that was gay and glad to be so.

Throughout, Mainly on Directing is enriched by Laurents’s two loves – his love for the theater and his love for his partner of fifty-two years, Tom Hatcher, who shared and inspired every aspect of his life and his work. Mainly on Directing presents an unforgettable portrait of an artist working with other artists, a unique close-up look at today’s American musical theater by a man who’s been at its red-hot center for more than five decades.



Arthur Laurents (1917-2011) was a playwright, screenwriter, and director, whose credits include two of Broadway’s landmark shows, Gypsy and West Side Story, and one of Hollywood’s best-known romances, The Way We Were. He is the author of Original Story By, his first autobiography, and The Rest of the Story, both published by Applause Books.




Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on November 7, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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