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Laurents, Arthur (1917-2011)  
 
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More provocatively, one of the settings for Anyone Can Whistle is a sanitarium called The Cookie Jar, described as catering to "the socially pressured"; the brilliant "Cookie Chase" scene underscores the contradictions in the American pursuit of success and happiness, which drives social authorities to attempt to destroy any instance of potentially subversive originality. Rose's breakdown in the climactic scene of Gypsy dramatizes the consequence of striving for success at any cost.

Laurents was at his best when depicting a female character's search for liberation from the social strictures that demand conformity. In Gypsy, Rose angrily protests to her father that her own two daughters will "have a marvelous time! I'll be damned if I'm gonna let them sit away their lives like I did. And like you do--with only the calendar to tell you one day is different from the next!"

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Laurents' most daring decision was to focus Gypsy not on the title character on whose memoirs the play was based, but on Gypsy Rose Lee's mother, making the play the portrait of a woman so determined to break free of the humdrum that she is unaware of the moral monster that she becomes in the process.

In The Turning Point, middle-aged friends Deedee Rogers and Emma Jacklin are forced to confront the choices made earlier in life that led one to leave the ballet stage to marry and raise a family in obscurity, and the other to become an internationally famous ballerina with an unsatisfying private life.

In A Clearing in the Woods, Virginia learns that "an end to dreams isn't an end to hope." And in Time of the Cuckoo, Leona Samish must let go of her unrealistic romantic expectations and accept the moment as life offers it. As Di Rossi advises Leona, "You are a hungry child to whom someone brings--ravioli. 'But I don't want ravioli, I want beefsteak!' You are hungry, Miss Samish! Eat the ravioli!"

Daring to aspire to a life beyond the humdrum, yet courageous enough to resist the corresponding temptation to be blinded by romantic illusion, Laurents' female characters are portraits of human resilience.

They spoke strongly to the pre-Stonewall generation of gay men, themselves experimenting with constructing an alternative, more satisfying existence.

[In his later years, Laurents kept busy looking both backwards and forwards. He has wrote memoirs and revived his landmark works, Gypsy and West Side Story, but he has also wrote new works and planned new projects.

In 2000, Laurents published Original Story by Arthur Laurents: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood, in which he discussed not only his stage and film work, but also his romantic relationships, including those with Farley Granger and, especially, with Tom Hatcher.

Hatcher's death on October 2006 marked the end of the couple's 52-year relationship.

Following his recovery from the depression that attended Hatcher's death, Laurents returned to his work with a vigor that is astonishing for a man of his age.

His revival of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone, was widely acclaimed. It earned him a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical in 2008 (an honor he had also earned earlier for his direction of La Cage aux Folles in 1984).

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