The award-winning book writer of Gypsy, West Side Story, Anyone Can Whistle and Hallelujah, Baby! will be feted at New Brunswick's Hyatt Regency Hotel on May 4. The star-studded benefit for New Jersey's George Street Playhouse will include performances from Bernadette Peters, who is scheduled to star as Mama Rose in the upcoming revival of Gypsy; Tyne Daly and Jonathan Hadary, who headlined the most recent Broadway production of that Laurents-Stephen Sondheim-Jule Styne musical; and Chita Rivera, who originated the role of Anita in the Laurents Sondheim-Leonard Bernstein classic West Side Story.
Laurents has been an active collaborator at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse for years, since the production of his drama Jolson Sings Again. More recently, he directed Chita Rivera in his play Venecia, and his latest work, Claudio Lazlo, was presented at the Playhouse last season. A production of Do I Hear a Waltz?, Laurents' collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, was also produced at the George Street in 1998. George Street Artistic Director David Saint recently commented in a statement, “Arthur has been a best friend to the Playhouse and a monumental force on all that is great in the American theatre. His presence at George Street has always been the highlight of our season, and we’re delighted to celebrate his incredible life and work.”
In addition to his book-writing credits, Laurents has directed such musicals as Nick & Nora, I Can Get It For You Wholesale and La Cage aux Folles, earning a Tony Award for his direction of the latter. His screenwriting credits boast "The Turning Point," "Rope" and "The Way We Were."
The May 4 gala will also honor the New Jersey State Bar Foundation with the 2002 Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Award, and the theatre company will announce the launch of its New Words/New Works Fund, a project that aims to provide funds restricted to the development of new plays for the American stage. The evening at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (Two Albany Street, New Brunswick, NJ) will begin at 5:30 PM with a cocktail reception and silent auction. Dinner will be served at 7:00 PM, followed by the celebrity performances. Tickets to the gala range from $275-$1,000. For more information, contact Carole Mansley at (732) 846-2895, ext. 144.
—By Andrew Gans