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G. J. Cederquist

(b Rockford, IL, 1960). American stage director. Having begun college as a journalism major, Griffin changed fields to study theater at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (BA 1982). He continued to study at Illinois State University where he received his Master of Fine Arts in Directing. After moving to Chicago in 1988 his directing career has focused on musical theater, a field in which he has won eight Joseph Jefferson Awards. His aesthetic tends towards the paring down of the large-scale musical and providing such works a more intimate and chamber piece quality.

Griffin is a renowned interpreter of Stephen Sondheim’s works, including productions of Saturday Night (a world premiere), Passion, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, Pacific Overtures (a unique all-male production which later transferred to the Donmar Warehouse [London] and won an Olivier Award), and Follies. Each of these productions originated at Chicago Shakespeare Theater where Griffin is associate artistic director. Previously he was the artistic director of the Drury Lane Oakbrook. He made his Broadway debut in ...

Article

Lara E. Housez

(Elliot )

(b Mansfield, OH, Jan 10, 1949). American playwright, director, and photographer. He attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he majored in Middle Eastern history, and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, where he graduated with an MFA in Design. Lapine moved to New York to work as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He eventually left the visual arts for a career in theater, where he wrote and produced a workshop version of Twelve Dreams (1978) and authored and directed the plays Table Settings (1978); Luck, Pluck and Virtue (1994); The Moment When (2000); Fran’s Bed (2005); and Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing (2008). Lapine collaborated with composer william alan Finn on the musicals March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990), later presented together as ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

(b Brooklyn, NY, July 14, 1917; d New York, NY, May 5, 2011). American writer and director. After attending Cornell, Laurents wrote for radio before creating the plays Home of the Brave (1945) and The Time of the Cuckoo (1952) for Broadway. He was blacklisted for political reasons in the early 1950s and lived abroad for a few years. Laurents’s most famous writing credits in the musical theater are the books for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), two of the most powerful musical plays in the genre’s history. He revealed his ability to craft a terse, explosive book for the former, effectively setting up the songs and dances while also delineating characters. In Gypsy, Laurents helped create memorable characters and nostalgically evoke the worlds of vaudeville and burlesque. His continuing Broadway work included directing I can get it for you wholesale...

Article

Paul R. Laird

[Mitchnick, Irwin ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, Jan 30, 1928). American composer, producer, and director. After earning a BA and MA from the Yale School, where he studied with paul Hindemith , he worked as a jazz musician and from 1954 wrote music for television and commercial jingles, such as “Nobody doesn’t Like Sara Lee.” In 1957 Leigh formed the company Music Makers as a focus for these efforts. He wrote incidental music for two plays, Too Good to be True (1963) and Never Live over a Pretzel Factory (1964), and then composed with the lyricist Joe Darion the score for the Broadway hit Man of La Mancha (1965). Their Tony Award-winning score includes spirited “Spanish” gestures and songs that effectively describe characters and situations. The show itself, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical, ran 2328 performances and has remained popular. Leigh also wrote the scores for ...