Bob LuPone, who helped run the MCC Theatre, has died at 76

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NEW YORK — Bob LuPone, who as an actor earned a Tony Award nomination in the original series of “A Chorus Line” and played Tony Soprano’s family doctor, and also helped found and run the he influential off-Broadway theater company MCC Theater for nearly 40 years has passed away. He was 76 years old.

LuPone, brother of Broadway icon Patti LuPone, died Saturday after 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 friend, Bob LuPone, who lived fearlessly and with great curiosity, good humor, an unbounded passion for connection and much of heart. He will be deeply and always missed,” the theater company said in a statement.

LuPone’s first professional work was in 1966, on the set of Westbury Music Fair’s production of “The Pajama Game” with Liza Minnelli. He made his Broadway debut in Noel Coward’s 1968 production of “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 cast member left. LuPone would earn a Best Actor Tony nomination for the role.

“Sincere condolences to the Lupone family,” Betty Buckley tweeted.

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 the Manhattan Class Company in 1986, known today as the MCC Theater.

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

While serving as MCC’s co-artistic director, 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 television was in “Sex and the City”, Guiding Light, and “All My Children”, for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination. .

He played Dr. Bruce Cusamano in “The Sopranos”, nicknamed “Cooze” by neighboring mobster Tony Soprano. In one memorable episode, Tony plays a joke by bringing Cooze a sealed box and asking him to keep it for a while, without telling his nervous neighbor that the package is full of sand.

He was also Director of the Master of Drama Program at The New School for Drama from 2005-2011 and served as Chairman of the Board of ART/New York.

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

Marc Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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