The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre.
Sondheim auditioned by playing the score for Saturday Night, his musical that was scheduled to open in the fall. Laurents was soon hired to write the screenplay for a remake of the 1934 Greta Garbo film The Painted Veil for Ava Gardner.
The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E.
Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Sondheim's Broadway debut. The production was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1957, but the award for Best Musical went to Meredith Willson's The Music Man.
In 1955, theatrical producer Martin Gabel was working on a stage adaptation of the James M.
Cain novel Serenade, about an opera singer who comes to the realization he is homosexual, and he invited Laurents to write the book.
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