Nicholas Hytner cut his teeth on opera and the classics and then directed Miss Saigon, which gave him a rare opportunity to work with writers who aren’t dead. At the time, he described to me arriving for work one morning and explaining that overnight he’d had some wonderful directorial notion that would involve the authors amending only one small section. The composer, Claude-Michel Schonberg, “gave me a polite look which I broadly interpreted as ‘Fuck off and do what we wrote.’ ” He did.

Happy the author who can say, “Fuck off and do what we wrote.” The very same season—1989—Robert Wright, Chet Forrest, and Luther Davis, writers of Kismet, were working on Grand Hotel. They’d already been forced to sign substandard contracts, paying them well below the Dramatists’ Guild minimum and for which they could have been kicked out of the Guild. This...

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