INTO THE WOODS
The production of Photograph, which in 1977 was innovative in its use of image projections, moved to an off-Broadway house in New York City, and its success earned Lapine an Obie, his first of many theater awards. His next staged project, Twelve Dreams, also combined his visual sensibilities with his interest in history, memory and surrealism.
However, it was Lapine's work with composers William Finn and Stephen Sondheim that would lead to his most notable successes. In 1981, he and Finn collaborated on March of the Falsettos, an exploration of Jewish family life that evolved over the years into the Tony Award-winning Falsettoland.
Lapine's introduction in 1982 to composer Stephen Sondheim led him to revisit the haunting image of Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte that he had used in Photograph. A conversation with Sondheim, during which Lapine noted that the artist was missing from the narrative of the painting, made them realize the dramatic tension needed for a play. The resulting Sunday in the Park with George became a groundbreaking musical that would go on to win two Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley said of the show: "You really did believe that it was the mind of the artist that summoned this vision into being. Or rather a melding of the artistic minds of Seurat, Mr. Sondheim, [and] Mr. Lapine."
Lapine went on to create more award-winning shows with Sondheim—including Into the Woods, Passion and Sondheim on Sondheim—and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and a stage version of Little Miss Sunshine with Finn. He also directed numerous productions, including Dirty Blonde, The Diary of Anne Frank and a recent revival of Annie.
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