A Salute To Broadway Royalty—a ‘Prince’ To Be Exact
By Helaine Feldman, Contributing Writer, August 3, 2017
What do Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Candide, Sweeney Todd, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera have in common? They’re all Broadway musicals of course. All have received Tony Awards in various categories, and all have been produced and/or directed by Hal Prince, whose life and career is being celebrated in Prince of Broadway, presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street. Previews begin tonight, with an official opening set for August 24.
In a career spanning more than 60 years, Prince has garnered a record-breaking 21 Tony Awards, plus nearly every other accolade the theatre offers, for his roster of Broadway hits, which run the gamut from A (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) to Z (Zorba).
Prince began his career as an assistant stage manager to legendary producer/director George Abbott, with whom he later co-produced The Pajama Game, which received the 1955 Tony Award for Best Musical. His long collaboration with another theatre legend, Stephen Sondheim, spawned such hits as West Side Story (1957), Company (1970), Follies (1971) and Pacific Overtures (1976).
Prince was a 1994 Kennedy Center honoree; received the National Medal of Arts presented by President Clinton in 2000 for changing “the nature of the American theatre;” received a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006; and in 2016, he was among the first inductees into the new Performing Arts Hall of Fame at Lincoln Center, the first venue devoted to excellence in the performing arts in genres including dance, theatre, opera and film, among others. In addition, the theatre at the Annenberg Center of the University of Pennsylvania (his alma mater) is named in his honor.
Prince of Broadway, presented by Umeda Arts Theatre, premiered in Tokyo in October 2015. The book is by two-time Tony nominee David Thompson (Chicago), with additional material and orchestrations by three-time Tony winner Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County). Co-direction and choreography is by five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (The Producers) and direction is by Prince himself.
Clearly, at age 89, Hal Prince shows no signs of retiring, or even slowing down.
Cover: Hal Prince; photo: Marc J. Franklin.