And he’s not afraid to tell you that. To your ass face.
At least, that’s what New York Magazine has led me to believe in Jesse Green’s sprawling, chatty article. I’ll buy Laurents’ book after work today and judge for myself. Still, the article kept my interest. I like a little vitriol on the side with my musical theatre.
Laurents has lost many of his oldest friends—and not quietly. His public dismissals, epistolary upbraidings, and gleeful pans were like atomic bombs detonated on relationships already weakened by too many cycles of betrayal and rapprochement. Laurents doesn’t deny that he was usually the bomb-dropper; it’s the nature of the bombs he disputes. “What other people call mean,” he says, “I call telling the truth unguardedly.”
Sondheim declined to “stir up any goblins” by discussing specifics but said, “It’s not that I don’t talk to him—we have a working relationship. But the friendship is kaput, and we once were really close. I was the last long-term friend of his to say ‘enough already.’ The best part of our relationship was wonderful. He was a joy to write with. It was only when rehearsals started that the trouble began, especially if another director was involved.
Even the theater composer Mary Rodgers Guettel, no slouch in the candor department, went silent for a moment when asked about the long friendship she and her husband, Hank, shared with Laurents. Eventually, she dictated this statement for the record: “Call me back when he’s dead.”