Robert LuPone, an actor and dancer who originated the position of the pushed director-choreographer within the musical “A Refrain Line” on Broadway and later helped run a vibrant Off Broadway theater firm identified for thought-provoking new works, died on Saturday in Albany, N.Y. He was 76.
His spouse, Virginia (Robinson) LuPone, confirmed the loss of life, at a hospice close to his dwelling in Athens, N.Y. She mentioned the trigger was pancreatic most cancers.
Mr. LuPone was acquainted to tv audiences from his roles on “The Sopranos” and the “Regulation & Order” franchise. However his past love, like that of his sister, Patti LuPone, was the theater.
By 1975, when Mr. LuPone auditioned for “A Refrain Line,” he had been dancing since childhood and had been in a number of Broadway reveals. Initially solid as Al, one of many dancers vying for a spot within the refrain line of a Broadway musical, Mr. LuPone persuaded Michael Bennett, who conceived and directed the present, that he might play the director, Zach, after Barry Bostwick, who had been solid within the half, left the present in the course of the workshop part.
“Michael has hassle directing actors,” Mr. LuPone mentioned in an interview on the web site of the Muny, the musical theater in St. Louis, when it staged “A Refrain Line” in 2017. “No, let me put it this fashion: Michael has hassle directing egos. He has an amazing ego. And I’ve an amazing ego. Barry Bostwick clearly has an even bigger ego than I do.”
On the Public Theater, after which on Broadway, “A Refrain Line” was an infinite hit. When it opened on the Shubert Theater — the place it might run for 15 years — Walter Kerr wrote in The New York Occasions that as Zach, Mr. LuPone “retires to a godlike perch on the rear of the auditorium and wheedles out of the brassy and the giggly, the pleading and the nonchalant, snippets of their pasts.”
The present was nominated for 12 Tony Awards — Mr. LuPone obtained a nomination for greatest featured actor in a musical — and received 9, together with greatest musical. That 12 months, his sister was nominated for greatest featured actress in a musical, for “The Robber Bridegroom.”
“A Refrain Line” proved pivotal for Mr. LuPone: His future was not in dancing.
Ms. LuPone mentioned that her brother had been an “extraordinary dancer,” and that his resolution to surrender dancing “haunts me.” In an e-mail, she wrote, “I believe he couldn’t take the dictatorial setting that choreographers at the moment created.”
That realization led him to check on the Actors Studio and carry out with the Circle Repertory Firm. He started instructing performing at New York College in 1981 and confirmed a really direct demeanor that his college students at first discovered stunning.
“Who was this man from musical theater speaking to us actors?” Bernie Telsey, a kind of college students, mentioned in a telephone interview. “He’d by no means taught earlier than. But it surely grew to become one of the best class ever.” Some college students continued to check with him after they graduated.
In 1986 Mr. LuPone and Mr. Telsey shaped the Manhattan Class Firm, which later grew to become MCC Theater. Will Cantler quickly joined them as affiliate inventive director and was named a creative director in 2011.
Over practically 40 years, the corporate has sought to provide difficult, unique performs and musicals, with a view to what Mr. LuPone known as a “third act” — affecting viewers members sufficient to maintain them speaking in regards to the reveals after they returned dwelling.
Three MCC productions transferred to Broadway and obtained Tony nominations for greatest play: “Frozen,” the story of the aftermath of a 10-year-old lady’s homicide, which opened in 2004; “Causes to Be Fairly” (2008), about individuals’s obsession with magnificence; and “Hand to God” (2014), a darkish comedy about a young person and his profane, presumably demonic sock puppet.
An Off Broadway MCC manufacturing of “Wit,” Margaret Edson’s play a few girl’s reflections on dying after she learns that she has ovarian most cancers — which received the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Drama Desk Award for excellent play in 1999 — additionally moved to Broadway.
Robert Francis LuPone was born on July 29, 1946, in Brooklyn and grew up in Northport, N.Y., on Lengthy Island. His father, Orlando Joseph LuPone, was an elementary college principal in Northport. His mom, Angela (Patti) LuPone, a homemaker, inspired Robert and Patti’s present enterprise ambitions, driving them to courses. Robert and Patti danced collectively as youngsters, successful third prize at a Jones Seashore expertise contest.
“I nonetheless have the trophy,” Ms. LuPone mentioned. “It was a tango.”
Robert took faucet classes after college earlier than enrolling within the Martha Graham College, the place as a young person he studied trendy dance with Graham, José Limón and Antony Tudor. He attended Adelphi College, on Lengthy Island, however, spurred by assembly a dancer higher than he was who had gone to the Juilliard College, he transferred there. He majored in ballet and minored in trendy dance and graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Positive Arts Diploma.
By then he had been within the ensemble of a 1966 manufacturing of “The Pajama Sport” on the Westbury Music Truthful (now the NYCB Theater at Westbury) on Lengthy Island. He made his Broadway debut as a dancer in 1968, in “Noël Coward’s Candy Potato,” and danced in three extra Broadway reveals earlier than his agent despatched him to audition for “A Refrain Line.”
Mr. LuPone labored steadily as an actor in theater, in films and on tv. He performed the Apostle Paul within the movie model of “Jesus Christ Celebrity” (1973); was in six daytime cleaning soap operas (incomes a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for his position on “All My Youngsters”);was seen on collection like “Gossip Lady,” “Ally McBeal” and “Billions”; and, between 1997 and 2001, was in Broadway productions of Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge,” Sam Shepard’s “True West” and Herb Gardener’s “A Thousand Clowns.”
In six episodes of “The Sopranos,” he performed Bruce Cusamano, Tony Soprano’s neighbor and doctor, who recommends that Tony see a psychiatrist.
Along with his spouse and sister, Mr. LuPone is survived by his son, Orlando, and his twin brother, William.
Mr. LuPone’s performing profession was secondary to his work at MCC, the place he not solely developed, oversaw and produced 4 or 5 reveals a 12 months but additionally raised cash for the theater’s everlasting dwelling, the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Area, on West 52nd Road in Manhattan, which opened in 2019.
“Bob was fearless,” Mr. Telsey mentioned, including that playwrights typically discovered it onerous to simply accept the candid notes that Mr. LuPone would write them throughout previews. “They’d be so burdened, however three days later realized that Bobby was proper. He pulled no punches.”