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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Lapine
James Elliot Lapine

(1949-01-10) January 10, 1949 (age 74)
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Stage director, playwright, screenwriter, librettist
Years active1977–present
SpouseSarah Kernochan
AwardsPulitzer Prize for Drama (1985)

James Elliot Lapine (born January 10, 1949) is an American stage director, playwright, screenwriter, and librettist. He has won the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical three times, for Into the Woods, Falsettos, and Passion. He has frequently collaborated with Stephen Sondheim and William Finn.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • 1988 Tony Awards - James Lapine - Best Book of a Musical
  • FLYING OVER SUNSET - Interview with James Lapine
  • James Lapine | Putting It Together
  • Building Broadway: FLYING OVER SUNSET's James Lapine, Tom Kitt and Michael Korie
  • Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine Interview - 1994


Early life

Lapine was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Lillian (Feld) and David Sanford Lapine.[1] He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1971.[2] Though he did not actively pursue theatre in childhood, Lapine did play Jack in an elementary school production of Jack and the Beanstalk. [3]


Lapine did graduate study in photography and graphic design at the California Institute of the Arts, where he received an MFA in 1973.[4] He was a photographer, graphic designer, and architectural preservationist, and taught design at the Yale School of Drama.[4] At Yale University he wrote an adaptation of and directed Gertrude Stein's Photograph, which was produced Off-Broadway at the Open Space in SoHo in 1977.[4][5] He went on to write and direct Off-Broadway plays and musicals, directing composer William Finn's March of the Falsettos in 1981; the musical won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play. Frank Rich, the New York Times theater critic, noted "Mr. Lapine's wildly resourceful staging".[6][7]

In 1982, Lapine was introduced to Stephen Sondheim.[8] The pair developed Sunday in the Park with George: Lapine wrote the book and directed; Sondheim created the music and lyrics. The play was first produced Off-Broadway in 1983,[9][10] and moved to Broadway in 1984.[8] Their next musical was Into the Woods, which premiered on Broadway in 1987,[11] for which Lapine won the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical. They next collaborated on the musical Passion, for which Lapine wrote the book and directed. The musical ran on Broadway in 1994 and in the West End in 1996, receiving a nomination for the Olivier Award for Best New Musical, and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, among other awards and nominations.[12][13][14] Their last collaboration was the revue Sondheim on Sondheim. Presented on Broadway in 2010, it won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Revue.[15][16]

In 1992, Lapine returned to working with William Finn, and wrote the book and directed the Broadway musical Falsettos. Lapine wrote the book and Finn composed the music for A New Brain, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1998.[17] They later worked together on Finn's musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2005 and later moved to Broadway. The New York Times reviewer wrote of the Spelling Bee Broadway transfer that "Mr. Lapine has sharpened all the musical's elements without betraying its appealing modesty."[18] The latest Finn-Lapine work is Little Miss Sunshine, which premiered in 2011 at the La Jolla Playhouse in California.[19]

Lapine has also directed dramas, including Dirty Blonde, which ran Off-Broadway and then on Broadway in 2000. Conceived by Claudia Shear and Lapine and written by Shear with direction by Lapine, Ben Brantley called Lapine's direction "stylish and compassionate".[20] Lapine was nominated for the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Direction of a Play.[21]

Lapine directed the 2012 Broadway revival of Annie.[22] He wrote a stage adaption of the Moss Hart autobiography Act One, which premiered on Broadway at the Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theater in April 2014.[23]

Lapine wrote the book for and directed the new musical Flying Over Sunset. A staged singing/reading was presented at the Vineyard Arts Project (Martha's Vineyard) in August 2015. The composer is Tom Kitt and lyrics are by Michael Korie.[24] The musical premiered on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on November 11, 2021 in previews with the official opening scheduled for December 13.[25][26] The production was originally scheduled to open on April 16, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[27][28][29]

In 1991, Lapine directed his first film, Impromptu, which has a screenplay by his wife, Sarah Kernochan. The story revolves around the romance of George Sand and Chopin, and stars Judy Davis and Hugh Grant.[4][30] He followed with Life With Mikey, with Michael J. Fox for Disney. In 1993, he directed Passion, starring the original Broadway cast, for television. He directed the film version of Anne Tyler's novel Earthly Possessions, starring Susan Sarandon and Stephen Dorff, for HBO in 1999.[31][32] He wrote the screenplay for Disney's film version of Into the Woods (2014), directed by Rob Marshall. He wrote and directed the film Custody in 2016 with Viola Davis, Hayden Panettiere, and Catalina Sandino Moreno.[33]

Lapine received the 2015 Mr. Abbott Award at a special gala on October 19, 2015. The award is presented by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation "in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional achievement in the theatre."[34][35] Lapine's book Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park with George was released on August 3, 2021,[36] and reviewed by Alan Cumming in a cover story in the New York Times Book Review on August 8, 2021.

Personal life

Lapine is married to American screenwriter and director Sarah Kernochan.[37][38] The couple's daughter is food writer Phoebe Lapine.[38] James Lapine's niece,[39] Sarna Lapine, directed the 2016 concert version and the 2017 Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George.


As a director, Lapine has worked on:
Writer, musicals

He has written the libretti for the following musicals:

Writer, plays


Year Film Role Notes
1991 Impromptu Director
1993 Life with Mikey Director
1999 Earthly Possessions Director TV movie
2013 Six by Sondheim Director TV documentary
2014 Into the Woods Screenplay
2016 Custody Director, screenplay
2022 In the Company of Rose Director, Cinematographer Documentary

Published works

  • Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park with George (2021) ISBN 9780374200091

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1984 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Sunday in the Park with George Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Book of a Musical Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
New York Drama Critics' Circle Award Best Musical Won
1985 Pulitzer Prize Drama Won
1988 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Into the Woods Won
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Book of a Musical Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
New York Drama Critics' Circle Award Best Musical Won
1992 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Falsettos Won
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
1994 Best Book of a Musical Passion Won
Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Book of a Musical Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
2000 Tony Award Best Direction of a Play Dirty Blonde Nominated
2002 Best Direction of a Musical Into the Woods Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
2003 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Amour Nominated
2005 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
2014 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special Six by Sondheim Nominated
Tony Award Best Play Act One Nominated
2015 Cinema Eye Honors Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Filmmaking for Television Six by Sondheim Nominated
2020 Drama League Award Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Honoree


  1. ^ "James Lapine Biography (1949–)". Retrieved July 4, 2014.[better source needed]
  2. ^ "Archives and Special Collections, Franklin and Marshall College, James Lapine Collection", accessed March 10, 2011
  3. ^ "James Lapine & Lisa Kron". Youtube.
  4. ^ a b c d "Stars Over Broadway, James Lapine", accessed March 10, 2011
  5. ^ Secrest, p. 326
  6. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: March of the Falsettos,' A Musical Find" The New York Times, April 10, 1981
  7. ^ "'March of the Falsettos' Listing" Archived April 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Internet Off-Broadway DataBase, accessed March 10, 2011
  8. ^ a b Secrest, pp. 326–341
  9. ^ Lawson, Carol. Summer's hottest ticket? How about Sondheim musical? The New York Times (abstract), June 17, 1983
  10. ^ "'Sunday in the Park with George' Listing" Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Internet Off-Broadway DataBase, accessed March 10, 2011
  11. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Into the Woods,' From Sondheim" The New York Times, November 6, 1987
  12. ^ Richards, David."Review/Theater; Sondheim Explores the Heart's Terrain" The New York Times (Books, The New York Times on the Web), May 10, 1994
  13. ^ "'Passion' Listing, 1994", accessed March 10, 2011
  14. ^ "Olivier Awards, 1997 Archived March 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  15. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review: 'Sondheim On Sondheim'" The New York Times, April 23, 2010
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew."'Red', 'Memphis', 'Bridge', 'Fences' and 'La Cage' Win Drama Desk Awards" Archived March 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, May 23, 2010
  17. ^ "'A New Brain', 1998" Archived July 30, 2003, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  18. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review: Six Misfits Test Wits On Bigger Platform" The New York Times, May 3, 2005
  19. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Road Trip! Finn & Lapine's 'Little Miss Sunshine' Musical Begins World-Premiere Run in CA" Archived February 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, February 15, 2011
  20. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theater Review: Smitten by a Goddess, but She's No Angel" The New York Times, January 11, 2000
  21. ^ "Complete List of 1999–2000 Tony Award Winners", June 4, 2000
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Broadway Revival of 'Annie' Finds Its Orphans", May 15, 2012
  23. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gioia, Michael. "'Act One', Stage Adaptation of Moss Hart's Theatrical Memoir, Opens on Broadway April 17" Archived April 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, April 17, 2014
  24. ^ Nadler, Holly. 'Flying Over Sunset' lifts off at the Vineyard Arts Project" Martha's Vineyard Times, September 2, 2015
  25. ^ Gans, Andrew (May 13, 2021). "Lincoln Center Theater's Flying Over Sunset Will Open This Fall; Intimate Apparel Sets 2022 Dates". Playbll. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  26. ^ Clement, Olivia (August 20, 2019). "Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Tony Yazbeck to Lead Cast of New Broadway Musical Flying Over Sunset". Playbill. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  27. ^ Evans, Greg (June 24, 2020). "Broadway's 'The Music Man', 'Flying Over Sunset' Postponed Until 2021 Amid Speculation Of Theater Shutdown Extension – Update". Deadline. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  28. ^ Lincoln Center Pushes to Fall 2020 BroadwayWorld, March 20, 2020
  29. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Tony Yazbeck to Lead Cast of New Broadway Musical 'Flying Over Sunset'", Playbill, August 20, 2019
  30. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Review/Film: Chopin, George Sand, Liszt and Some Others" The New York Times, April 12, 1991
  31. ^ Tynan, William (March 22, 1999). "Earthly Possessions". Time.
  32. ^ "Earthly Possessions Listing" InternetMovieDatabase. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  33. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Raul Esparza, Viola Davis, Dan Fogler Cast in James Lapine Film 'Custody' ", April 30, 2015
  34. ^ "James lapine Receives Lifetime Achievement Award", September 30, 2015
  35. ^ Simoes, Monica. "Pics! Bernadette Peters, Andrew Rannells, Stephen Sondheim and More Honor James Lapine" Playbill, October 20, 2015
  36. ^ "Putting It Together | James Lapine | Macmillan". Archived from the original on November 30, 2020.
  37. ^ "James Lapine biography". Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  38. ^ a b "Sarah Kernochan biography", accessed March 10, 2011
  39. ^ "Sarna Lapine directs Sunday in the Park with George, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, at NY City Center". October 28, 2016. Archived from the original on March 20, 2017. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  40. ^ a b "'Twelve Dreams' Listing, 1981" Archived September 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  41. ^ a b Eder, Richard. "'Table Settings,' a Comedy Of a Modern Jewish Family; The Cast" The New York Times, March 24, 1979
  42. ^ a b "'Table Settings' Listing, 1979" Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  43. ^ a b "'Table Settings' Listing, 1980" Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  44. ^ Donegan, James. "James Lapine – A Midsummer Nights Dream". Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  45. ^ a b Canby, Vincent. "Theater Review: A Morality Tale About Everybody's Fall Guy" The New York Times, April 5, 1995
  46. ^ a b Klein, Alvin. "Theater Review: She's Taken to Her Bed, But No One's Sure Why" The New York Times, November 9, 2003
  47. ^ a b "'Fran's Bed' Listing, 2005" Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  48. ^ a b "Mrs Miller Does Her Thing' media gallery, cast, and creative team, 2016", accessed March 6, 2016
  49. ^ Weber, Bruce. As Life Fatefully Unspools at a Yada-Yada Cocktail Party" The New York Times, March 22, 2000


  • Haagensen, Erik J. (1994). "The Passion of James Lapine". Showmusic: The Musical Theatre Magazine. pp. 11–16.
  • Secrest, Meryle (1999). Stephen Sondheim: A Life, Random House. ISBN 0-385-33412-5

External links

This page was last edited on 26 September 2023, at 21:49
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