Hal Prince Sends In The Clowns

 Hal Prince(Photo: Joseph Sinnott

Hal Prince(Photo: Joseph Sinnott

Pat Cerasaro

Game-changing art and culture-shaping commerce rarely converge in modern entertainment, yet the incomparable career of iconic director Hal Prince is proof that it is actually achievable, if incredibly rare. Perhaps no one in Broadway history has made a bigger impact on the Great White Way than 21-time Tony Award-winning legend Hal Prince, who is showcased in a fresh documentary directed by Lonny Price debuting on PBS stations across the country this holiday weekend. Indeed, from the very beginning Prince was an iconoclast. Assisting George Abbott on Golden Age classics THE PAJAMA GAME and DAMN YANKEES was just the very start of a resume for the record books. 

WEST SIDE STORY came next, merging his considerable producing talents with director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and bookwriter Arthur Laurents to venerable acclaim. Forging his own way as a director, Prince helmed Kander & Ebb's CABARET in 1966, following that up with a string of artistic triumphs with Sondheim. COMPANY, FOLLIES, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, PACIFIC OVERTURES, SWEENEY TODD and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG are among the most vital and important musicals ever created, all premiering in a remarkable 12-year span. As if teaming with perhaps the greatest craftsman in Broadway history was not enough, Prince also aligned with the most commercially victorious composer of all time in the guise of his Andrew Lloyd Webber partnerships on two Tony Award-winning musical masterpieces, EVITA and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

With PHANTOM now the longest-running musical ever on Broadway and one of the most lucrative worldwide entertainments ever presented, Prince is still going strong at 90. The recent revue PRINCE OF BROADWAY highlighted his extraordinary output, with several new projects in the offing, as well. Surely, Prince is undoubtedly the king of the Great White Way and worthy of a documentary exploring his exceptional role in developing one of America's most significant original cultural contributions, musical theatre.

Who knows what Prince will surprise us with next, having had so many renaissances thus far. Never one to merely rest on his laurels, the Prince of Broadway remains one of the most formidable figures alive.