What are the Chances?
James Lapine was eleven years old when he saw his first Broadway show, Bye Bye Birdie. His parents no doubt chose that show, because its lyricist, Lee Adams, was from the Lapines’ hometown. “As far as we were concerned, after Johnny Appleseed…he was the most famous person to have emerged from Mansfield, Ohio.”
Lapine enjoyed the show and loved visiting New York, but wasn’t dreaming of a life in the theatre.
He majored in history in college and fell in love with the camera through a photography course in his senior year. After graduating, he worked in photography and design, eventually picking up a freelance job designing the magazine yale/theatre.
This was the gateway back to theatre for Lapine, first as a director, then as a writer/director and as he ventured into musicals — a lyricist, too.
Lapine’s theatrical career has been decorated in accolades — including twelve Tony Awards and a Pulitzer for Sunday in the Park With George, his collaboration with Stephen Sondheim.
What are the chances of two Tony-winning lyricists hailing from the same small Midwestern town?
I’d suggest that Lee Adam’s success made it much more likely that the town would generate another lyricist. Because after it had happened once, it was shown to be possible. Lapine couldn’t tell himself “You can’t be a successful lyricist from Mansfield.”
When we have a breakthrough or experience success of our own, it’s important to share it with those who share similar dreams. Help your fellow artist see what is possible and encourage them to pursue their vision.