He won Tony Awards for the book to Hallelujuah, Baby! in 1968, and for his direction of La Cage Aux Folles in 1984.
Laurents was best known for his collaborations with Stephen Sondheim, including writing the books for West Side Story and Gypsy (earning Tony nominations for both), Anyone Can Whistle, and Do I Hear a Waltz. Early in his career, Laurents wrote such plays as Home of the Brave and The Time of the Cuckoo. In later years, he wrote and directed the musicals The Madwoman of Central Park West and Nick & Nora.
Laurents directed the 1975, 1989, and 2008 revivals of Gypsy, each of which earned Tony Awards for its respective leading ladies, Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, and Patti LuPone. He also directed the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story.
As a screenwriter, he is best remembered for the 1973 film, The Way We Were, and his Oscar-nominated work for the 1977 film, The Turning Point, which starred Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine.
He authored two memoirs, Original Story By: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood (2000) and Mainly on Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story, and Other Musicals (2009).