Hal Prince, King of Broadway Musicals, Dies @ 91

Hal Prince, the producer and director whose touch molded such hits as The Pajama Game (1954; co-producer); Damn Yankees (1955; co-producer), West Side Story (1957; co-producer), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962; producer); Fiddler on the Roof (1964; producer), Cabaret (1966; producer/director), Company (1970; producer/director), Follies (1971; producer/director); Sweeney Todd (1979; director), Evita (1979; director), The Phantom of the Opera (1986, director), and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993; director) — to name a few — died Wednesday in Reykjavik, Iceland, following a brief illness.

He was 91.

The original West Side Story (GIF via Playbill.com)

For his life's work, Prince was awarded 21 Tonys (eight for directing, 10 for producing, three special honors), more than anyone else.

Patti LuPone as Evita (Image via Broadway Theatre)

Born January 30, 1928, in New York City, he was raised by adoptive parents. Following an army stint, Prince assistant stage-managed for George Abbott (1887-1995) and made his debut as a co-producer with the smash hit The Pajama Game in 1955. It won the Tony.

Though his career continued at a break-neck pace, he did have failures, so many he nearly quit the business. It was his collaboration with Stephen Sondheim (b. 1930), the equally iconic composer and lyricist with whom he had his greatest, most lasting and most personally satisfying hits, including: West Side Story, Cabaret, Follies, A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976) and Sweeney Todd. They parted ways after the disastrous Merrily We Roll Along (1981), but teamed up again for Bounce (2003).

In 2015, Prince of Broadway — a retrospective of Prince's work — premiered in Japan, directed by Prince and Susan Stroman (b. 1954).

Prince is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judy, and their children Daisy Prince and Charles Prince.

Listen to Prince in his own words in this 2008 interview that has never been seen until now.

1 Response

  1. I believe Prince, preceded by Alexander Cohen and David Merrick, was the last single name above the title Broadway producer.
    Broadway productions have for sometime been corporately capitalized, or at least by a consortium of people.
    For all the team effort a Broadway production entails, there is something to be said for a single captain commandeering the endeavor.
    R.I.P. sweet Prince.

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