PLAYBILL PICKS: The Top Theatre Stories of 2011 From Spider-Man to Sondheim to Site-Specific Shows

By Robert Simonson
23 Dec 2011


Vaclav Havel

Vaclav Havel, the only playwright in our time (or, surely, any time to come) to be elected president of his country — the Czech Republic — died at 75. Arthur Laurents, who created two of the most perfect books in musical theatre — West Side Story and Gypsy — and stayed active until the age of 93 to fiercely protect them from all comers and pretenders, passed. (Read the reflections of his colleagues.) Lanford Wilson, a loving portrayer of life's downtrodden, unfortunate and misunderstood, who was one of the most innovative of American playwrights in the 1960s, and one of the most popular in the 1970s, died at 73. Also gone is one of Wilson's early producers, Ellen Stewart, the Mama in LaMaMa E.T.C. since the downtown company's first days in the early '60s helping launch the Off-Off-Broadway movement. At 91, she was still in charge.