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James Lapine
Lapine at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards
BornJames Elliot Lapine
(1949-01-10) January 10, 1949 (age 72)
Mansfield, Ohio, United States
OccupationStage director, playwright, screenwriter, librettist
Alma materFranklin and Marshall College (1971)
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for Drama (1985)
SpouseSarah Kernochan

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.

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]


Lapine did graduate study in both photography and graphic design at the California Institute of the Arts, where he received an MFA in 1973.[3] He was a photographer, graphic designer, and architectural preservationist and taught design at the Yale School of Drama.[3] At Yale University he wrote an adaptation and directed the Gertrude Stein play Photograph, which was produced Off-Broadway at the Open Space in SoHo in 1977.[3][4] He proceeded to write and direct Off-Broadway plays and musicals, working with composer William Finn on March of the Falsettos in 1981 as director; 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".[5][6]

In 1982 he was introduced to Stephen Sondheim,[7] and they decided to work on a musical together, which became Sunday in the Park with George, with Lapine writing the book and directing with Sondheim's music and lyrics. It was first produced Off-Broadway in 1983[8][9] and then transferred to Broadway in 1984.[7] The pair's next musical was Into the Woods, which premiered on Broadway in 1987.[10] Lapine won both the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Book of a Musical. They then 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 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, among other awards and nominations.[11][12][13] Their latest collaboration is the revue Sondheim on Sondheim, presented on Broadway in 2010 and winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Revue.[14][15]

In 1992 Lapine returned to working with William Finn, and wrote the book and directed the Broadway musical Falsettos. Lapine wrote the book, with Finn composing the music, for A New Brain, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1998.[16] They later worked together with Lapine directing Finn's musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2005 and then transferred 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."[17] The latest Finn-Lapine work is Little Miss Sunshine, which premiered in 2011 at the La Jolla Playhouse in California.[18]

Lapine has also directed dramas, including Dirty Blonde, which ran Off-Broadway and 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".[19] Lapine was nominated for the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award, for Best Direction of a Play.[20]

Lapine directed the 2012 Broadway revival of Annie.[21] He wrote a stage adaption of the Moss Hart autobiography Act One, also titled Act One, which premiered on Broadway at the Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont Theater in April 2014.[22]

Lapine wrote the book for, and directed, a new musical titled 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.[23] The musical will premiere on Broadway in 2021. Presented by the Lincoln Center Theater in the Vivian Beaumont Theater, the cast will feature Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Tony Yazbeck.[24]

In 1991 he 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 starred Judy Davis and Hugh Grant.[3][25] 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.[26][27] 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.[28]

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."[29][30] Lapine's book Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created Sunday in the Park with George was released on August 3, 2021,[31] 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.[32][33] The couple's daughter is food writer Phoebe Lapine.[33] James Lapine's niece[34] Sarna Lapine directed the 2016 concert version (and subsequently, the 2017 Broadway revival) of Sunday in the Park with George, for which James Lapine wrote the book and directed the original production.


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

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 2014-07-04.
  2. ^ "Archives and Special Collections, Franklin and Marshall College, James Lapine Collection", accessed March 10, 2011
  3. ^ a b c d "Stars Over Broadway, James Lapine", accessed March 10, 2011
  4. ^ Secrest, p. 326
  5. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: March of the Falsettos,' A Musical Find" The New York Times, April 10, 1981
  6. ^ "'March of the Falsettos' Listing" Archived 2015-04-15 at the Wayback Machine Internet Off-Broadway DataBase, accessed March 10, 2011
  7. ^ a b Secrest, pp. 326-341
  8. ^ Lawson, Carol. Summer's hottest ticket? How about Sondheim musical? The New York Times (abstract), June 17, 1983
  9. ^ "'Sunday in the Park with George' Listing" Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine Internet Off-Broadway DataBase, accessed March 10, 2011
  10. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Into the Woods,' From Sondheim" The New York Times, November 6, 1987
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ "'Passion' Listing, 1994", accessed March 10, 2011
  13. ^ "Olivier Awards, 1997 Archived 2008-03-15 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  14. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review: 'Sondheim On Sondheim'" The New York Times, April 23, 2010
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew."'Red', 'Memphis', 'Bridge', 'Fences' and 'La Cage' Win Drama Desk Awards" Archived 2014-03-02 at the Wayback Machine, May 23, 2010
  16. ^ "'A New Brain', 1998" Archived 2003-07-30 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  17. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review: Six Misfits Test Wits On Bigger Platform" The New York Times, May 3, 2005
  18. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Road Trip! Finn & Lapine's 'Little Miss Sunshine' Musical Begins World-Premiere Run in CA" Archived 2011-02-18 at the Wayback Machine, February 15, 2011
  19. ^ Brantley, Ben."Theater Review: Smitten by a Goddess, but She's No Angel" The New York Times, January 11, 2000
  20. ^ "Complete List of 1999-2000 Tony Award Winners", June 4, 2000
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Broadway Revival of 'Annie' Finds Its Orphans", May 15, 2012
  22. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gioia, Michael. "'Act One', Stage Adaptation of Moss Hart's Theatrical Memoir, Opens on Broadway April 17" Archived 2014-04-19 at the Wayback Machine, April 17, 2014
  23. ^ Nadler, Holly. 'Flying Over Sunset' lifts off at the Vineyard Arts Project" Martha's Vineyard Times, September 2, 2015
  24. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Carmen Cusack, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Tony Yazbeck to Lead Cast of New Broadway Musical 'Flying Over Sunset'", Playbill, August 20, 2019
  25. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Review/Film: Chopin, George Sand, Liszt and Some Others" The New York Times, April 12, 1991
  26. ^ Tynan, William (March 22, 1999). "Earthly Possessions". Time.
  27. ^ "Earthly Possessions Listing" InternetMovieDatabase. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  28. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Raul Esparza, Viola Davis, Dan Fogler Cast in James Lapine Film 'Custody' ", April 30, 2015
  29. ^ "James lapine Receives Lifetime Achievement Award", September 30, 2015
  30. ^ Simoes, Monica. "Pics! Bernadette Peters, Andrew Rannells, Stephen Sondheim and More Honor James Lapine" Playbill, October 20, 2015
  31. ^
  32. ^ "James Lapine biography". Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  33. ^ a b "Sarah Kernochan biography", accessed March 10, 2011
  34. ^ "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.
  35. ^ a b "'Twelve Dreams' Listing, 1981" Archived 2011-09-12 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  36. ^ a b Eder, Richard. "'Table Settings,' a Comedy Of a Modern Jewish Family; The Cast" The New York Times, March 24, 1979
  37. ^ a b "'Table Settings' Listing, 1979" Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  38. ^ a b "'Table Settings' Listing, 1980" Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  39. ^ Donegan, James. "James Lapine - A Midsummer Nights Dream". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  40. ^ a b Canby, Vincent. "Theater Review: A Morality Tale About Everybody's Fall Guy" The New York Times, April 5, 1995
  41. ^ 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
  42. ^ a b "'Fran's Bed' Listing, 2005" Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine, accessed March 10, 2011
  43. ^ a b "Mrs Miller Does Her Thing' media gallery, cast, and creative team, 2016", accessed March 6, 2016
  44. ^ 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 9 August 2021, at 16:13
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