Robert LuPone, Actor Who Became a Behind-the-Scenes Force, Dies at 76 – The New York Times

After playing a critical Broadway role in “A Chorus Line, ” he helped start the vibrant Off Broadway MCC Theater. TV watchers knew him from “The Sopranos” and “Law plus Order. ”

Robert LuPone , an actor and dancer who originated the role of the driven director-choreographer in the musical “A Chorus Line” on Broadway and later helped run a vibrant Off Broadway theater company known for thought-provoking new works, died on Saturday in Albany, N. Y. He was 76.

His wife, Virginia (Robinson) LuPone, confirmed the particular death, at a hospice near his home in Athens, N. Con. She said the cause was pancreatic cancer.

Mr. LuPone has been familiar to television audiences from his roles on “The Sopranos” and the “Law & Order” franchise. But his first love, like that associated with his sister, Patti LuPone , was the theater.

By 1975, when Mr. LuPone auditioned for “A Chorus Line, ” he had been dancing since childhood and had been in a few Broadway shows. Initially cast as Al, one of the dancers vying for a spot within the chorus line of a Broadway musical, Mister. LuPone persuaded Michael Bennett , that conceived plus directed the show, that he could play the director, Zach, after Barry Bostwick, who experienced been forged in the particular part, left the show during the workshop phase.

“Michael has trouble directing actors, ” Mr. LuPone stated in an interview on the website associated with the Muny , the musical theatre in St . Louis, when it staged “A Chorus Line” in 2017. “No, let me put it this way: Michael has problems directing egos. He has a tremendous ego. And I have a tremendous ego. Barry Bostwick obviously has a bigger ego than I do. ”

At the Public Theater, and then upon Broadway, “A Chorus Line” was an enormous hit. When it opened at the Shubert Theatre — where it would run with regard to 15 years — Walter Kerr wrote in The New York Occasions that as Zach, Mister. LuPone “retires to the godlike perch at the rear of the particular auditorium plus wheedles out of the brassy and the giggly, the pleading and the particular nonchalant, snippets of their pasts. ”

The show had been nominated regarding 12 Tony Awards — Mr. LuPone received a nomination intended for best featured actor in a musical — and won nine, including best musical. That year, his sister was nominated for best featured actress in a musical, for “The Robber Bridegroom. ”

“A Chorus Line” proved pivotal for Mr. LuPone: Their future was no longer in dancing.

Ms. LuPone mentioned that her brother had been an “extraordinary dancer, ” and that his decision to give up dance “haunts me. ” In an email, she published, “I think he couldn’t take the dictatorial environment that choreographers at that time created. ”

Mister. LuPone said that dancing in musicals had become a “hollow experience. ” In an oral history interview within 2018 with Primary Stages, an Away Broadway movie theater company, this individual said, “I wasn’t really able in order to speak, plus the ideas were, for me, superficial. ”

That realization led your pet to study in the Actors Studio and perform along with the Circle Repertory Company. He began teaching acting at Brand new York University in 1981 and showed a very direct demeanor that their students at first found surprising.

“Who was this guy from music theater talking to us stars? ” Bernie Telsey , one of those students, said inside a phone interview. “He’d never taught before. But this became the particular best class ever. ” Some college students continued to study with him after they graduated.

Within 1986 Mr. LuPone plus Mr. Telsey formed the Manhattan Class Company, which later became MCC Movie theater . Will Cantler soon joined them as associate artistic movie director and has been named a good artistic director in 2011.

Over nearly 40 years, the company has sought to produce challenging, original plays and musicals, with a view to what Mr. LuPone called the “third act” — affecting audience members enough to keep all of them talking about the displays after they returned home.

Three MCC productions transferred to Broadway and received Tony nominations for best perform: “Frozen, ” the story associated with the aftermath of a 10-year-old girl’s murder, which usually opened in 2004; “Reasons to Be Pretty” (2008), regarding people’s obsession with beauty; and “Hand to God” (2014), the dark comedy about a teenager and his profane, possibly demonic sock puppet.

MCC also staged the original Away from Broadway production of “Wit, ” Margaret Edson’s enjoy about a woman’s reflections on dying right after she learns that she has ovarian cancer, which won the particular Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Drama Desk Award to get outstanding play in 1999. It was later on produced upon Broadway.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Periods

Robert Francis LuPone was born on July 29, 1946, within Brooklyn and grew up in Northport, N. Y., upon Long Island. His father, Orlando Joseph LuPone, had been an elementary school principal in Northport. His mother, Angela (Patti) LuPone, the homemaker, encouraged Robert plus Patti’s display business ambitions, driving them to classes. Robert and Patti danced together because children, winning third prize at a Jones Beach talent contest.

“I still have the trophy, ” Ms. LuPone said. “It was the tango. ”

Robert took tap lessons after school before enrolling in the particular Martha Graham School , where since a teenager he or she studied modern dance along with Graham, José Limón plus Antony Tudor. He attended Adelphi College, on Long Island, but, spurred by meeting a dancer better than he was who else had gone to the Juilliard School, he transferred there. He majored in ballet and minored in contemporary dance and graduated within 1968 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.

By then he had already been in the ensemble of a 1966 manufacturing of “The Pajama Game” at the particular Westbury Music Fair (now the NYCB Theater in Westbury) on Long Tropical isle. He made his Broadway debut as a dancer in 1968, in “Noël Coward’s Sweet Potato, ” and danced in three more Broadway shows prior to his agent sent your pet to audition for “A Chorus Collection. ”

Mister. LuPone worked steadily as an actor in theater, within movies and on television. He played the Apostle Paul in the particular film version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1973); was in six daytime soap operas (earning a Daytime Emmy Award nomination pertaining to his part on “All My Children”); was seen on series like “Gossip Girl, ” “Ally McBeal” and “Billions”; and, between 1997 plus 2001, was in Broadway shows of Arthur Miller’s “A View From your Bridge, ” Sam Shepard’s “True West” and Herb Gardner’s “A Thousand Clowns. ”

In six episodes of “The Sopranos, ” he played Bruce Cusamano, Tony Soprano’s neighbor and physician, which recommends that will Tony see a psychiatrist.

In addition to his wife and sibling, Mr. LuPone is survived by his son, Orlando, and their twin brother, William.

Mr. LuPone’s performing career has been secondary in order to his work at MCC, where this individual not only developed, oversaw plus produced four or five shows the year but also raised money for the theater’s permanent home, the particular Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, on West 52nd Street in Manhattan, which opened in 2019.

“Bob had been fearless, ” Mr. Telsey said, adding that playwrights often discovered it hard to accept the candid notes that Mister. LuPone might write all of them during previews. “They’d be so stressed, but 3 days afterwards realized that Bobby was right. This individual pulled no punches. ”