David Saint is currently directing the National tour of WEST SIDE STORY, a production based on the highly successful 2009 Broadway revival. The tour is currently playing at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
Saint also serves as Artistic Director of the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick NJ where he has directed twenty-nine main-stage productions. Most recently, he directed Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway; the NJ premiere of the Broadway hit God of Carnage and the world premiere of Joe DiPietro’s Creating Claire. His time in New Brunswick has been marked by collaborations with such artists as Uta Hagen, A.R. Gurney, Arthur Laurents, George Grizzard, Chita Rivera, Eli Wallach, Frances Sternhagen, Anne Meara, Dan Lauria, Stephen Sondheim and Jack Klugman.
Mr. Saint has directed on Broadway, off-Broadway, and at most of the leading regional theatres around the country. He is the recipient of the Alan Schneider Award, Helen Hayes Award, Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, and several Drama-Logue Awards.
David Saint took time out of his busy schedule to speak with BWW about the current National tour of WEST SIDE STORY as well as to remember his close friend and trusted mentor, famed librettist, director and screenwriter Arthur Laurents, who passed away a year ago at the age of 93. Mr. Saint was chosen by Laurents to be the literary executor of his estate, responsible for some of stage and screen's greatest masterpieces including West Side Story, Gypsy and The Way We Were.
You were chosen by Mr. Laurents to be the literary executor of his estate. I'm sure that is both a huge honor and a heavy responsibility.
Yes. It's a huge responsibility and a great privilege. And actually, the timing of your call is interesting because Arthur wrote a last memoir which he finished literally a week before he died. I am editing that as well and this past weekend I just finished the final edit and sent it off to the publishers. May 5th will be one year since he died and it was quite a busy year for me. And just reading the memoir very closely again the last few days with the final edit has really brought him back in so many ways. I still can't believe he's gone in a way.
How did you first become associated with him?
We met years ago, way back in the early 90's. We were in Seattle together, I was directing a play and he was doing a workshop of another play of his. We had met earlier than that through Anne Meara originally and so I knew him a little socially, but we really got to know each other in Seattle. A few months later he sent me a script and said he wanted me to direct it and that was of course thrilling. And then we continued to just become better and better friends and work together. I think I worked with him all together 11 or 12 times - a lot of plays, musicals. It was probably the most exciting relationship of my professional life. He was such a huge mentor to me and I learned a great deal from him.
Well that brings me to my next question which I'm sure is a difficult one to answer. What would you say is the most important thing that he taught you?
Oh boy. I could write a book. In fact I may! I think one of the big things was, to find the honesty in the work and to find the honesty in yourself. He dealt remarkably honestly with people and sometimes in this business that is rare. A lot of people will say "Oh tell me what you think", but they really don't want to know what you think. They want to hear praise and Arthur never believed in that. He believed in telling the truth. If you asked him what he thought about something he would tell you. It was intimidating to a lot of people but what I found out was that after years of dealing with him and dealing with other folks, I much prefer dealing with him because I always knew where I stood.