By Maya Meschi
James T. Lane is a dancer, singer, and actor currently starring in the off-Broadway play Triple Threat. The one-person performance takes the audience through James T Lane’s life. Lane has experienced all aspects of the performing arts, from performing in Tony-nominated shows to reaching an all-time low after an injury led to addiction. Lane’s life experiences brought him to the point he describes as creative responsibility. In other words, he encourages the importance of finding multiple ways to pursue bigger creative endeavors. He is an actual ‘Triple Threat.’
From an early age, Lane was passionate about theater. “Dance was my first language as a child. Through dance, I could express myself. I found my emotions were easy to translate through dance.” With the love of dance, Lane attended Girard Academic Music Program. One year, the school had to cancel its musical. Lane made lemons into lemonade by creating his first musical, A Killer Review. Lane hung flyers around the school to motivate students to participate in his production and taught his performers different acting methods/techniques. With drive and determination, Lane was accepted into the prestigious colleges of Carnegie Mellon and Penn. State. After years of performing in primary school, Lane found it difficult not being allowed to perform during his first year of college. Lane left college to tour in Fame, allowing him to travel around Europe. Lane’s eyes were opened as he explored new and exciting cultures. “It was terrific seeing buildings older than my country. You do not have that record or realization until you have gone.” Sadly, the experience was short-lived. Lane injured his Achilles tendon, creating a downward spiral into addiction.
Being separated from the dance was incredibly hard for Lane. Lane said, “The arts have always been a mirror into my soul.” With the help of rehab and family, he eventually found his footing and embarked on a wondrous journey. Lane made his Broadway debut in the revival of A Chorus Line. Continuing his Broadway success, Lane performed in The Scottsboro Boys. Under the guidance of Susan Stroman, he discovered the art of authentic storytelling, particularly bringing African American stories to life in the fight for freedom. While in London for The Scottsboro Boys, Lane met with artistic director David Lan. “He said to me, ‘What do you want to do? I am interested in you.’ And I was like, whoa! Nobody asked me that before. I had spent so much time in other people’s dreams and visions that it was thrilling and shocking. He later asked me, ‘Do you write,’ I was like, no, so he said, ‘If you were to write something, what would you write?’ Then I started writing and felt like that kid who performed mini-musicals on the playground.”
As his career advanced, Lane starred in another Kander and Ebb musical, Chicago. Lane has revisited Chicago multiple times in his career. Pushing himself as a dancer, he joined King Kong, the Musical. Lane discovered the power of creative responsibility. He wanted to be more than a performer in a production. “It was the final time that I said, I am going to give 110% of me…So I decided in King Kong to have creative responsibility. It is like I need a bigger slice of the pie to feel good.”
Lane recalled his conversation with David Lan and realized each opportunity was a stepping stone to Triple Threat. Triple Threat was born through his artistic journey: taking risks, encountering pitfalls, and growing as an artist. Triple Threat brings awareness to the struggles people face with substance abuse. According to Lane, “Triple Threat took me on a path, for better or for worse, and I found out more of the spirit of who James was, and I fought some tough battles and came through on the other side. It is like an unshakable kind of self-esteem. I know now that I would not change what happened.”