HAROLD PRINCE Biography - Producers, publishers & editors


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Name: Hal Prince                                                                           
Born: 30 January 1928                                                                       
Hal Prince (born January 30, 1928) is an American theatrical producer and                   
director associated with many of the best-known Broadway musical productions of             
the past half-century. He has earned more Tony Awards (21) than any other                   
individual, including eight for directing, eight for producing, two as producer             
of the year's Best Musical, and three special awards. His shows are known for               
their political context, new approach to romance, and characters who sing and               
dance with thematic import.                                                                 
Born Harold Smith Prince in New York City, he attended the University of                   
Pennsylvania at age 16, studying a liberal arts curriculum, and graduated at age           
19. He began work in the theatre as an assistant stage manager to legendary                 
theatrical producer and director George Abbott. Along with Abbott, he co-produced           
The Pajama Game, which won the 1955 Tony Award for Best Musical. He went on to             
direct his own productions in 1962 beginning with A Family Affair and hit a                 
series of unsuccessful productions. He almost gave up the musical theater right             
before he hit success with Cabaret in 1966. 1970 marked the start of his                   
greatest collaboration, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. They had                   
previously worked on West Side Story and at this point decided to embark on                 
their own project. Their association spawned a long string of productions,                 
including Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific             
Overtures (1976), and Sweeney Todd (1979). After the disappointing Merrily We               
Roll Along (1981), they did not work together again until Bounce (2003), which             
proved to be another failure.                                                               
Prince also has directed operas, including Ashmedai, Willie Stark, Madame                   
Butterfly, and a revival of Candide. In 1983 Prince staged Turandot for the                 
Vienna State Opera (conductor: Lorin Maazel; with José Carreras, Eva Marton).             
He directed two of Andrew Lloyd Webber's successes, Evita and The Phantom of the           
Opera. He was offered the job of directing Cats by Webber but turned it down.               
Despite creating a number of hugely popular musicals in the late 1970s and 1980s           
such as The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, and Evita, Harold Prince also               
had failures in this period. His first major artistic failure with Stephen                 
Sondheim was in 1981 with Merrily We Roll Along. Determined to bounce back,                 
Prince started working on a new musical A Doll's Life with lyricists Betty                 
Comden and Adolph Green that would be continue the story of Nora Helmer past               
what Henrik Ibsen had written in A Doll's House. It was as badly received                   
critically as Merrily, mainly because critics blamed him for either picking a               
bad idea for a musical or repeating himself. Other unpopular musicals of this               
time include Roza (musical) and Grind which both suffered creative and financial           
difficulties. Prince himself stopped producing and directing concurrently during           
this period because the process of financing a show had become so difficult.               
Prince was the inspiration for John Lithgow's character in Bob Fosse's film All             
That Jazz. He was also the basis of a character in Richard Bissell's novel Say,             
Darling, which chronicled Bissell's own experience turning his novel 7 1/2 Cents           
into The Pajama Game. Say, Darling also became a musical, with Prince parodied             
onstage by actor Robert Morse.                                                             
Prince is married to Judy Chaplin, daughter of Saul Chaplin. They are parents of           
director Daisy Prince Chaplin and conductor Charles Prince. He currently serves             
as president of the National Institute for Musical Theater. On May 20, 2007, he             
gave the commencement address at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.           
Hal Prince is known as the great modern Producer-Director of the American                   
Broadway Musical. Critics have recognized Prince's work as further developing               
the “concept musical,” in which the narrative of a show is not necessarily the         
primary authorial emphasis and instead the production centers on an idea or                 
metaphor that is explored through scenes and songs that do not unfold in a                 
traditional sequential narrative style.                                                     
In 2006, Prince was awarded a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the           
Theatre. The Harold Prince Theatre at the Annenberg Center of the University of             
Pennsylvania is named in his honor.