Harold Smith Prince|
January 30, 1928
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Other names||Hal Prince|
|Occupation||Theatrical producer, director|
|Years active||1955 – present|
|Spouse(s)||Judith Chaplin (1962–present; 2 children)|
Harold Smith "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 garnered twenty-one Tony Awards, more than any other individual, including eight for directing, eight for producing the year's Best Musical, two as Best Producer of a Musical, and three special awards.
Life and career
Prince was born in New York City and adopted in childhood by Milton A. Prince, a stockbroker, and Blanche Stern. Following his graduation from the Dwight School in New York, he entered the University of Pennsylvania at age 19, where he followed a liberal arts curriculum and graduated three years later. He later served two years with the United States Army in post-WWII Germany.
Prince began work in the theatre as an assistant stage manager to 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 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). Following Merrily We Roll Along (1981), which was not successful, they parted ways until Bounce (2003).
Prince 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, Éva 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 Lloyd 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, Prince had his first artistic failure with Stephen Sondheim in 1981 with Merrily We Roll Along. Determined to bounce back, he started working on a new musical A Doll's Life with lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green that would continue the story of Nora Helmer past what Henrik Ibsen had written in A Doll's House. It was also badly received. Other commercially unsuccessful musicals includes Roza and Grind. 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 7½ Cents into The Pajama Game.
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. In 2008 Prince was the keynote speaker at Elon University's Convocation for Honors celebration.
Prince co-directed, with Susan Stroman, the 2010 musical Paradise Found. The musical features the music of Johann Strauss II as adapted by Jonathan Tunick with lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh. The book was written by Richard Nelson, based on Joseph Roth’s novel The Tale of the 1002nd Night. The musical premiered at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London on May 19, 2010 and closed on June 26, and starred Mandy Patinkin.
Prince married Judy Chaplin, daughter of Saul Chaplin, on October 26, 1962. They are parents of Daisy Prince, a director, and Charles Prince, a conductor. Actor Alexander Chaplin, best known as "James Hobert" on Spin City, is Prince's son-in-law.
Awards and nominations
- Prince, Harold, Contradictions: Notes on twenty-six years in the theatre, Dodd, Mead ISBN 0-396-07019-1 (1974 autobiography)
- Prince, Harold (1993), Grandchild of Kings, Samuel French,
- Hirsch, Foster (1989, rev 2005), Harold Prince and the American Musical Theatre, Applause Books, (with Prince providing extensive interviews and the foreword)
- Ilson, Carol (1989), Harold Prince: From Pajama Game To Phantom of the Opera And Beyond, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-8357-1961-8
- Ilson, Carol (2000), Harold Prince: A Director's Journey, Limelight Editions,
- Napoleon, Davi, Chelsea on the Edge: The Adventures of an American Theater, Iowa State University Press, (Includes a preface by Prince and a full chapter about the production of Candide.) .
- Brunet, Daniel; Angel Esquivel Rios, Miguel; and Geraths, Armin (2006), Creating the "New Musical": Harold Prince in Berlin, Peter Lang Publishing,
- Thelen, Lawrence (1999), The Show Makers: Great Directors of the American Musical Theatre, Routledge,
- Guernsey, Otis L. (Editor) (1985), Broadway Song and Story: Playwrights/Lyricists/Composers Discuss Their Hits, Dodd Mead,
- "Harold Prince Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
- Music Division (November 2005). "Harold Prince Scores, JBP 06-2". The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- Lifetime Honors - National Medal of Arts nea.gov
- Fick, David."PARADISE FOUND at the Menier Chocolate Factory"
- "Baldwin, Cullum, Hensley and Kaye Will Join Patinkin for London's 'Paradise Found'" playbill.com
- Harold Prince at the Internet Broadway Database
- Harold Prince at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Harold Prince at the Internet Movie Database
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Works by or about Harold Prince in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Harold Prince collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Harold Prince Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org, May 2008
- Harold Prince papers, 1954-1999, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Harold Prince scores, 1955-1983, held by the Music Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Interview with Hal Prince by Bruce Duffie, November 11, 1982
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