Bob LuPone, Who Helped Lead MCC Theater, Has Died at 76

Bob LuPone, Who Helped Lead MCC Theater, Has Died at 76
Robert LuPone, former director of The New School for Drama, speaks at a celebration marking the opening of The New School's University Center in New York on Jan. 23, 2014. (Diane Bondareff/Invision for The New School/AP Images)
The Associated Press

NEW YORK—Bob LuPone, who as an actor earned a Tony nomination in the original run of “A Chorus Line” and went on to help found and lead the influential off-Broadway theater company MCC Theater for almost 40 years, has died. He was 76.

LuPone, brother of Broadway icon Patti LuPone, died Saturday following a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer, according to Matt Ross Public Relations.

“The MCC Theater community mourns the loss of our much loved and uniquely inspiring partner, colleague and dear friend, Bob LuPone, who lived fearlessly and with great curiosity, good humor, a boundless passion for connection, and a whole lot of heart. We will miss him deeply and always,” the theater company said in a statement.

LuPone’s first professional job was in 1966, in the ensemble of the Westbury Music Fair’s production of “The Pajama Game” starring Liza Minnelli. He made his Broadway debut in the 1968 production of Noel Coward’s “Sweet Potato” and later appeared in “Minnie’s Boys,” “The Rothschilds” and “The Magic Show.”

LuPone was initially cast as Al in “A Chorus Line,” but convinced creator and director Michael Bennett to let him play Zach after the original actor left. LuPone would earn a best featured actor Tony nomination for the role.

Born in 1946 in Brooklyn, New York, LuPone graduated from The Juilliard School with a bachelor’s degree in dance in 1968.

He was teaching an acting class at New York University when one of his students was Bernie Telsey. Together they would help form Manhattan Class Company in 1986—known today as MCC Theater.

LuPone, Telsey along with third co-artistic director Will Cantler shaped MCC into a theatrical powerhouse, producing such Broadway-bound works as “Frozen,” “Reasons to be Pretty,” “Hand to God,” “School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play,” “The Snow Geese,” “The Other Place,” and the Pulitzer Prize- winning “Wit.”

While serving as co-artistic director of MCC, LuPone also worked as an actor, appearing in “A View from the Bridge,” “True West,” and “A Thousand Clowns,” all on Broadway. He was in the Chicago premiere of Sam Shepard’s “The Tooth of Crime and on TV was in “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City,” Guiding Light,” and “All My Children,” for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination.

He also served as director of the MFA drama program at the New School for Drama from 2005 through 2011 and served as president of the board of directors of A.R.T/ New York.

LuPone is survived by his wife, Virginia; his son, Orlando; sister, Patti; and brother, William.

By Mark Kennedy