The legendary playwright, screenwriter and director Arthur Laurents (West Side Story, Gypsy, Hallelujah, Baby! La Cage Aux Folles, The Way We Were) was so moved by Leslie's portrayal of Lena Horne in the musical STORMY WEATHER that he was compelled to write this letter:
"Dear Leslie. I had an unforgettable theatre experience this afternoon watching you play the essence of the Lena Horne I knew so intimately for so many years. For most of the piece, I had to be satisfied only by your acting which was so truthful and mesmerizing despite the limited opportunities. Finally you sang - and I was devastated...
"The quiet elegy to Billy Strayhorn was heartbreakingly beautiful. It brought the play suddenly to life but still didn't prepare me for your 'Stormy Weather.' I knew your thrilling voice; I knew you found the Lena in you; I knew there was a depth of emotion you were finally tapping into; but nothing, none of it, accounted for the magnificence of that extraordinary emotional roller coaster ride you took me and every single person in that audience on. It was astounding, thrilling and it moved me to tears.
"I would love to see you play Rose in GYPSY - not a black GYPSY, just GYPSY.
With admiration and affection, Arthur"
Sadly Mr. Laurents died in 2011 and didn't get to see Leslie fulfill his wish by playing Mama Rose. In a way, though, he was on that Connecticut Repertory Theatre stage with her. Was that him silently saying, "Sing out, Leslie?"
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