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Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other Musicals (Borzoi Books) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 10, 2009


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Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other Musicals (Borzoi Books) + The Rest of the Story: A Life Completed + Original Story By: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Series: Borzoi Books
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307270882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307270887
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #852,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The title is coy, if not downright misleading. Directing is only one of several issues the venerable director-dramatist discusses in fascinating, detailed dissections of Gypsy and, to a lesser extent, West Side Story (a few other musicals get inspected, too), by someone who should know of what he writes. Laurents wrote the books for both Gypsy and WSS, and directed, late in life (he is 90), a highly praised, hit revival of the former. (Even as this is written, he is directing a bilingual WSS opening in March 2009.) Insightful, incisive, very opinionated, Laurents just doesn’t hold back. His criticism of Sam Mendes and the 2003 Gypsy revival is unstinting, but then he doesn’t even spare the original Mama Rose, Ethel Merman. He is, however, equally lavish with his praise, gushing about Patti Lupone’s Rose so that you’d never guess he famously (if silently) feuded with her for years. This book for Broadway gossip mavens and others with higher aspirations—such as directing Gypsy themselves—is hard to put down. --Jack Helbig

Review

“. . . required reading for anyone who is passionate about musical theater. . . a sublimely dishy portrait of Broadway’s golden age and beyond, ranging from legends such as Ethel Merman, Jerome Robbins and Stephen Sondheim to Laurents’ late partner, Tom Hatcher, whose influence on his work is movingly detailed.”

USA Today

“Laurents has created an indispensable account of his hard-won success. . . valuable as much for the advice it gives to future directors as for the passion with which it argues for the redemption of musical theater as a serious art form.”

The Buffalo News

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

The New York Times Book Review

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Damien Slattery on March 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Laurents takes no prisoners in this extremely frank and personal view of the theater he loves. This is usual of his writing, he certainly speaks his mind. Director Sam Mendes comes in for a lacerating as does the Gypsy revival with Bernadette Peters that Laurents did Not direct. It is a sad thing to discover that Arthur's relationship with Stephen Sondheim also suffers strain. The joy of the book is the perceptions about musical theater directing, performing and creation. Laurents constantly talks about having the musical 'in your bones' and those that do not - he names.
I could not put this book down! You get a first-hand study of the many variants of Gypsy (with illuminating little nuggets of textual study) and brilliant perceptions of his other significant Broadway work. This is an extraordinary little book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert in NY VINE VOICE on April 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nobody can talk about theater today with more passion (and dispassion) than Mr Laurents. He pulls no punches, but also gives credit where its due. In his latest book, he talks about many of his past shows, with particular attention to the last few reincarnations of "Gypsy" (with Bernadette Peters and Patti Lupone), not to mention others back to Ethel Merman, the original Rose- he's seen them all.

His books are all fascinating reads for anyone with interest in theater, and this one is as good as it gets - this man has been a player in NY theater since the 1940s and he doesn't miss a beat.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By milton meyers on April 18, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
if you adore musical theatreyouwill love this bookisaw the originalwest side story in 1957and the original gypsy in 1959. it was fun to know the inside informationabout each show. irecently saw gypsy with patti lupone. it was exciting to have the knowledge from arthur laurentsat how he made a great show even better. the book deserves better than an average of three stars. read it. you/ll thank me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nick Ingram on February 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If you are interested in what it takes to dig deep and work for a lifetime in some of the most important theatre productions of the last 50 years -- then take a breath and read this book.

I learned so much from this sometimes uncomfortable book-length essay on the gut-wrenching work of wresting works of beauty and genius from chaos.

When I go to the theatre, I am always ready to give myself entirely to the production. I have be rewarded with some truly life-changing experiences. I have also been saddened and frustrated by heartless or incompetent productions.

I happened to see the Mendes production of "Gypsy" which Laurents takes to task. And I must say I agree with everything he said, including the specific 'whys' of how the production failed.

Let's face it, Bernadette Peters (whom I have always adored in productions and concerts) in "Gypsy" needed little else to encourage my ordering tickets as soon as they went on sale. I walked out a angry and confused in my disappointment. It nearly turned me off to "Gypsy" altogether.

I add this point because there have been so many comments about how Laurents reams Mendes -- implying that he was just being bitchy and attacking a colleague unfairly. I disagree completely with this take on the book.

The clarity of his analysis of his career and experiences -- many examples of his own failures and mistakes -- is a brilliant master class for those who have the wit to pay attention.

I am quite grateful for his taking the time to share what he believed was the fruit of his life lessons in the theatre. Who would know better or had more earned the right to tell his truth?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HedgeGuy on August 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been going to Broadway shows for over 60 years and have been witness to some of the most thrilling afternoons and evenings of my life. I have been to many of the shows discussed in the book and have, in retrospect, realized the incredible art of the performers and crew. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking about the theater, either going to a Broadway show or investing in a show or even going to a show. Bravo Mr. Laurents
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Parrish on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I read the whole book in one sitting because I could not put it down. Laurents is a fascinating man who pulls no punches in expressing his opinions about other people's work. His insights and gossip about such luminaries as Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, Stephen Sondheim, Ethyl Merman, Angela Lansbury, Gene Barry, and Sam Mendes makes for a fascinating read. Laurents, who wrote the books for "Gypsy" and "West Side Story" is also a successful Broadway director and his stories about the challenges of directing on The Great White Way are always intersting. The book is informative, gossipy, and fun. Highly recommend to anyone who loves theatre.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Mcintyre on March 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was prepared for the glowing words about everything associated with Laurents from his writing to his directing on and on. But, his attacks at others get really old quickly, starting with Sam Mendes.

I saw the original "Gypsy" and "I Can Get It For You Wholesale," musicals about which Laurents writes at great length. Of course, Laurents believes that only the "Gypsy" revivals that he directed got things right. He blames everyone but himself for the failure of "Wholesale." Laurents is not happy about Hammerstein's mentoring of Sondheim. Perhaps if Laurents had a mentor, that person could have told him to check with others frequently because you [Laurents] lack self awareness (its not "in your bones," a phrase that Laurents uses many, many times in this book).
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