Harold Prince RIP

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John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Harold Prince RIP

Post by John F » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:31 am

He's best known for his work on Broadway musicals, but Harold Prince also directed productions of operas including Gounod's "Faust" at the Met in 1990. That was not a success - the unit set looked like a village of mud huts - and after a revival the following season it was seen no more. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has long planned a major Harold Prince exhibition and it will open on September 17 as planned. The first of several events celebrating him, "Thank You, Harold Prince," will happen at the library on September 19.

https://www.nypl.org/press/press-releas ... -major-hal

Broadway producer and director Hal Prince dies at age 91
By Caitlin Huston

Veteran Broadway producer and director Hal Prince has died at age 91. He died on July 31, in Reykjavik, Iceland, after a brief illness, according to spokesperson Rick Miramontez.

Over his long career in the theater, Prince received 21 Tony Awards, including three special Tonys. The celebrated director and producer was a frequent collaborator with Stephen Sondheim, as the director and producer of “Company,” “Follies,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “A Little Night Music,” director of “Sweeney Todd” and producer of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “West Side Story.” Outside of his collaboration with Sondheim, Prince is well-known for having directed and produced “Cabaret” and directing the still-running “The Phantom of the Opera,” as well as “Evita.” He was the producer of “Fiddler of the Roof.”

Prince, who said he fell in love with theater at age 8, spent the latter half of his career helping to foster the next generation of creative producers. “The experiences you have in the theater can affect the rest of your life, it certainly did in my life,” Prince told Broadway News in an 2018 interview.

All Broadway theaters were dimming their lights Wednesday evening in memory of Prince. Tributes to Prince poured in Wednesday from his former colleagues and from members of the theater community. “Farewell, Hal. Not just the prince of musicals, the crowned head who directed two of the greatest productions of my career, ‘Evita’ and ‘Phantom.‘ This wonderful man taught me so much and his mastery of musical theatre was without equal,” Andrew Lloyd Webber said in a statement.

“Hal Prince was not only a legendary director of musicals, but also a brilliant producer. As the curtain finally falls on his phenomenal career, it is fitting that his greatest success as a director, ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ is still both the longest-running musical on Broadway and continues playing to packed houses at its original London theatre Her Majesty’s, where he also enjoyed two of his most enduring hits as the original producer of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘West Side Story.’ The Gods of the theatre salute you, Hal,” producer Cameron Mackintosh said in a statement.

“We at the American Theatre Wing mourn with the rest of the theatre community, as today, we have lost a giant. Hal was our most Tony-winning artist as well as an exceptional mentor and thought leader for our industry. His legacy lives on in all the life changing theatre and artists he helped foster and shape. Rest well, friend!,” said Heather Hitchens, chief executive and president of the American Theatre Wing, in a statement.

Prince is survived by his wife, Judy, his daughter Daisy; his son, Charles; and his grandchildren, Phoebe, Lucy and Felix. There will be no funeral, per Prince’s wishes, but there will be a celebration of his life this fall including members of the theatrical community.
John Francis

John F
Posts: 21076
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Harold Prince RIP

Post by John F » Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:15 am

Appreciation: From ‘Cabaret’ to ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ Hal Prince made the musical modern
By Charles McNultyTheater Critic
July 31, 2019
It’s no exaggeration to say that Broadway director and producer Hal Prince made the musical modern. When the Golden Age was in danger of losing some of its luster, he reinvigorated the art form with sex, politics and a conceptual sleekness that seized the imagination of a more liberated generation.

No figure in Broadway history had a bigger influence on how shows looked and behaved in the second half of the 20th century. Prince, who died Wednesday at age 91, directed a series of groundbreaking shows whose productions were inseparable from their authorship. The breathtaking list includes “Cabaret, “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Candide,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Evita” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

As a producer, he was just as prolific in turning out landmark works. Having served as an apprentice for the Broadway master George Abbott, Prince earned the first of his 21 Tony Awards working as a producer on two shows directed by Abbott , “Damn Yankees” and “The Pajama Game.” He would go on to be on the producing teams of such musicals as “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Fiorello!” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” — shows that would have been legacy enough for most Broadway movers-and-shakers, but Prince operated on a superhuman scale.

In the period defined by two composing titans of vastly different stripes, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Prince was the indispensable force elevating them to new artistic heights. His work with Sondheim certified his genius. Lloyd Webber ensured a future without financial strife. This distinction is perhaps best illustrated through “Follies,” the Sondheim show that (by Prince’s own admission) “lost all the money invested in it” but sealed his legend as a director.

Possessing one of the sharpest minds in the business, Prince was one of its gruffest truth-tellers. He knew what he knew as well as what he didn’t. He would have liked to have directed “West Side Story,” but he recognized the musical required a director with the choreographic brilliance of Jerome Robbins.

He joked that he would have “screwed up” “Hello, Dolly!” by asking questions a musical comedy of this sort would rather not be asked. When composer Jerry Herman came to his office to play the score, Prince objected to one of the show’s signature lines: “It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.” Having directed “The Matchmaker,” the play upon which “Hello, Dolly!” is based, Prince barked, “Did you read the play? She was never there. The idea is that this is a whole new life that she’s grabbing before it’s too late.” Herman, Prince recalled in an interview in “The Art of the American Musical: Conversations With the Creators,” “gently folded his music and left the office.”

But when the material was right, Prince was the creative partner that could transform a germ of an idea into a blockbuster for the ages. With his background as a producer, it was only natural that he would insert himself into the writing process as a director. He was as concerned with dramatic structure as he was with the sets. Indeed, one of his distinguishing attributes as a director was in fashioning theatrical environments that determined how a story would unfold, as in the way past and present overlap in the ghost-filled Weismann Theatre of “Follies.”

In forging a new tradition, Prince acknowledged that he had to break the back of the old one. Sure-fire formulas of the past had lost their potency. His early box office flops, which would probably be disqualifying in today’s ruthless Broadway economy, paved the way for “Cabaret.” The clash of egos in the struggle to achieve something bracingly innovative wasn’t for the timorous. The phrase “control freak” might have been coined expressly for his directing style.

Collaborators, such as John Kander and Fred Ebb and Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, tied themselves to him despite the Sturm und Drang because they saw that he was as driven as they were to get the work right. Performers with their own formidable gravity obediently orbited around his sun, confident that he knew best how to illuminate their talents.

Prince often talked about “solving” a show, as though musicals presented a mathematical mystery that could be worked out with enough intellectual inspiration and time — resources not always sufficiently accommodated by Broadway schedules and budgets. One show he regretted not being able to figure out was Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along.” The score captivated him, but the structure defied his ability to locate a unifying flow.

The disappointment marked the end of one of the most fruitful relationships in Broadway history. But after a two-decade hiatus, Sondheim and Prince reunited with “Bounce,” a musical that has been kicking around under different titles, still trying to find the key that will unlock its treasure.

In “Original Story,” playwright Arthur Laurents identified what made Prince and Sondheim perfectly suited as creative partners: The love of their life was the theater, “which each was determined to take over and make over in his own way.”

Prince succeeded as only he could — with pioneering vision, volcanic ardor and unprecedented artistry. In changing the course of Broadway history, he contributed to the vitality the theater enjoys today through the artists and producers he inspired and encouraged along his path-breaking way.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-a ... hal-prince
John Francis

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