William Finn (1952 - )
Tony Award-winning composer and playwright , William Finn grew up in Natick, Massachusetts, and, after graduating from Williams College where he studied music and received a Hutchinson Fellowship (an award for musical composition), he went on to pen numerous successful Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Finn is perhaps best known for his trilogy of short musicals: In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland. This trilogy, entitled Falsoettos ran for 486 performances on Broadway and won Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Book, the latter shared with co-author James Lapine.
Finn and Lapine's other collaborations include Little miss Sunshine, the Tony Award-winning 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and A New Brain.
Mr. Finn's 1998 musical A New Brain was inspired by the personal experience of surviving his own life-threatening brain illness. In 1992, Finn was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation in his brainstem after he suffered a sudden onset of vision loss, dizziness and partial paralysis. He underwent Gamma Knife surgery which corrected the problem, and resulted in a post-operative year of feeling profoundly humbled and serene, as if he had a "new brain". A New Brain premiered Off-Broadway at the Lincoln Center Theatre, winning the Outer Circle Critics' Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. A New Brain had its UK premier in 2005 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
In addition to numerous other works, Mr. Finn wrote the lyrics for the world premier musical Dangerous Games - Two Tango Pieces (1989), a co-production of La Jolla Playhouse, American Music Theater Festival and Spoleto Festival USA. He is also the composer of Romance in Hard Times (1989), Elegies -A Song Cycle (2003), The Sisters Rosenzweig (1993), and Little Miss Sunshine (2011), among others.
Fun fact: Mr. Finn was Guest of Honor at Boston's own Elliot Norton Awards in 2006, where he gave special honor to his high school drama teacher, Gerry Dyer, when he brought him up onto the stage with him to present an award. Said Finn of his early mentor, "[he} imbued us with a ridiculous sense of our own self-worth."
James Lapine (1949 - )
American stage director and librettist James Lapine began his career as a photographer, graphic designer and architectural preservationist. It was while teaching Design at the Yale School of Drama that he wrote and directed an adaptation of the Gertrude Stein play Photograph which was produced Off-Broadway at the Open Space in SoHo on 1977. Since that time, Mr. Lapine has written and directed numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals, collaborating with many contemporary artists, including Stephen Sondheim and William Finn.
Mr. Lapine first worked with William Finn as Director of Finn's 1981 musical March of the Falsettos, which won the Outer Circle Critic's Award for Best Off-Broadway Play. He returned to work with Finn when the collaborated on the musical trilogy Falsettos, with William Finn composing the music and Mr. Lapine writing the book and Directing.
A New Brain marked the pair's third collaboration, with Finn composing and Lapine creating the book and lyrics. A New Brain premiered Off Broadway in 1988.
In 2005, Mr. Lapine Directed William Finn's Tony Award-winning 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and in 2011 worked with Finn again as librettist for Little Miss Sunshine which premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse, California.
Other credits include numerous works with Stephen Sondheim for whom he wrote the books for Sunday in the Park with George (which he also Directed), Into the Woods (which won the Tony and Drama Desk s Awards for Best Book of a Musical), and Passion, which Lapine also Directed, and which won two Tony Awards for Best Musical, and Best Book of a Musical.
Mr. Lapine has also Directed for film with the productions Earthly Possessions (starring Susan Sarandon and Stephan Dorff), Life with Mikey (starring Michael J. Fox and Cindy Lauper) and Impromtu (starring Hugh Grant Judy Davis, Mandy Patankin and Bernadette Peters).