“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,” read a statement from MCC.
LuPone was born on July 29th, 1946 in Brooklyn, New York to Angela Louise (known as Pat), a housewife, and Orlando Joseph LuPone, a school principal.
His passion for the arts began at an early age. In the sixth grade at his North Port, Long Island elementary school, he saw his younger sister Patti dance at a PTA Dance Concert in a colorful hula skirt. After he told his mother how badly he wanted to wear the skirt, she told him that if that’s what he wanted then he’d have to enroll in dance class, which he did the following year. He started by taking tap lessons after school before enrolling in the Martha Graham Studio, where he studied under Antony Tudor, José Limon and Graham herself, from ages 15 to 18.
LuPone got accepted to Juilliard after a friend suggested he audition, an audition that he improvised. He would graduate with a BFA in Dance in 1968.
In 1966, he landed his first job as part of the ensemble of The Pajama Game starring Liza Minnelli. His Broadway debut would happen in 1968 in Noel Coward’s Sweet Potato and would later on appear in Minnie’s Boys, The Rothschilds, and The Magic Show.
LuPone was cast as Al in A Chorus Line but when one of the actors departed the production, he asked to audition for the part of Zach, which he would land. This role led LuPone to score a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. A Chorus Line opened at the Public Theater, before swiftly transferring to Broadway. The production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards at the 1976 ceremony.
While teaching an acting class at New York University, one of his students was Bernie Telsey, who together would form the Manhattan Class Company — known today as MCC Theatre.
LuPone, Telsey and Will Cantler successfully led MCC for nearly 40 years producing shows like Frozen, Hand to God, School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit.
While serving as a co-artistic director of MCC Theater, LuPone continued acting appearing in Broadway productions like A View from the Bridge, True West, and A Thousand Clowns. He was also in the Chicago premiere of Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime and made television appearances on shows like The Sopranos, Sex & the City, Guiding Light and All My Children, for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination.
LuPone is survived by his wife Virginia, his son Orlando, sister Patti, brother William.