The Kennedy Center

James Lapine



Biography

A leading American theatrical director, librettist and playwright, Ohio native James Lapine is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, and trained at the California Institute of the Arts as a photographer and graphic designer. He spent several years plying those trades on the West Coast, prior to accepting a position at the Yale School of Drama teaching design. With encouragement from his students, he adapted and staged his first play "Photograph," which caught the attention of producers who brought the show to Off-Broadway in 1977. He later staged the work "Twelve Dreams," inspired by a case study of Carl Jung, and garnered attention and acclaim for his breakthrough stage comedy "Table Settings," about a zany Jewish-American family.

Among Lapine's most notable works is "Sunday in the Park with George", which he produced in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim. It won two Tony Awards, numerous Drama Desk Awards and the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Lapine and Sondheim collaborated again to create the musical play "Into the Woods" (1987), which proved to be the pair's most successful collaboration, earning the Best Book and Best Score Tony Awards. As a follow-up, Lapine and Sondheim produced "Passion" (1994), a full-length intermission-less musical show about the many faces of love. Though critically acclaimed, it failed to find popular appeal, closing after only 280 performances, making it the shortest-running musical ever to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.

Other Lapine works have included "March of the Falsettos" and "Falsettoland" - both produced in collaboration with composer William Finn. In 1992, "Falsettoland" won Tony Awards for its book and score. Lapine also teamed with Mandy Patinkin for "The Winter's Tale" in 1989, and undertook the staging of the revised version of "The Diary of Anne Frank" in 1997.

In addition to his work in the musical theater, Lapine became a noted stager of dramatic works, including Shakespeare. He enjoyed a spectacular success with a 1982 PBS telecast production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" starring William Hurt as Oberon.

Like many stage directors, Lapine ventured into the realm of filmmaking. In 1991, working from a script by his wife Sarah Kernochan, he produced "Impromptu" - a romantic romp set in the 19th-century, and "Life with Mikey", a comedy in which TV actor Michael J. Fox portrayed a struggling talent agent.

Sources:
James Lapine. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 27, 2007, from Wikipedia.com Web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lapine
Stars over Broadway: James Lapine (2004) Broadway: The American Musical Online; Thirteen/WNET New York. Web site: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/broadway/stars/lapine_j.html
James Lapine