Harold Prince’s long-gestating career retrospective Prince Of Broadway will open in August at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s flagship Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The show, featuring scenes from the life and legendary c.v. of Broadway’s most Tony-decorated denizen, will be produced by the non-profit by special arrangement with Gorgeous Entertainment, a Times Square-based commercial production company headed by Kumiko Yoshii and Michael Wolk. Co-directed by Prince and Susan Stroman (The Producers, Contact), the show will begin previews August 3, 2017 in anticipation of an August 24 opening at the West 47th Street theater. The limited engagement will launch MTC’s 2017-2018 subscription season.
Prince Of Broadway includes recollections and scenes from many of the shows that earned Prince a record 21 Tony Awards as producer and director, beginning with his apprenticeship in the production office of his mentor, the producer, director and writer George Abbott. In addition to shows ranging from West Side Story, Pajama Game, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler On The Roof, through Prince’s decade-long collaboration with Stephen Sondheim (Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd, among others) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and The Phantom Of The Opera, the show interweaves original songs, musical supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by three-time Tony winner Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years). The book for Prince Of Broadway is by David Thompson (The Scottsboro Boys).
The creative team includes Beowulf Boritt (sets and projections), William Ivey Long (costumes), Howell Binkley (lighting) and Fred Lassen (musical director. Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller is billed as creative consultant. Also underwriting the show are The John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, The Shubert Organization and Kumiko Yoshii.
First announced as a Broadway-bound project in 2012, Prince Of Broadway initially stalled as commercial producers were reluctant to sign on for the kind of magazine show that can be a risky venture and a tough-sell in a market that craves star-led revivals and branded adaptations of films such as The Lion King. The musical, with the same creative team that will reprise in August, opened in Tokyo in the fall of 2015, presented by Umeda Arts Theater Co., Ltd., Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc. and Amuse Inc. The cast included Ramin Karimloo, Emily Skinner, Tony Yazbeck, Josh Grisetti, Shuler Hensley and Nancy Opel. The Broadway cast has not been set.
In an interview with Deadline last year, Prince said the show would differ from an earlier retrospective, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway: “I use it as a warning,” he said of that musical. “When I saw it, I thought, It’s good, but it isn’t fresh, there isn’t the sense of Jerry’s creative mind, which I know so well, and which was unequalled. The first thing was, I can’t remember anything I’ve done yesterday, much less 60 years ago. So I thought, I don’t want to see the archives, I don’t want to see any footage, I want to approach the material as if I hadn’t staged it. I know I once staged it and it worked, but I have to do it again. So that’s what’s happened. Nothing is staged exactly as it was, because I can’t remember — and I consider that an advantage.”
In the announcement Wednesday morning Lynne Meadow, MTC’s artistic director, said, “Hal Prince is an icon in the American theatre — his work has been seminal over the last six decades and he has impacted the lives and careers of thousands of artists, including me. Hal was one of MTC’s earliest supporters. In 1973, when I had been the artistic director for only three months, Hal came and saw my first production of a musical in our 100 seat cabaret – The Little Mahagonny. Hal was instrumental in securing our first major grant from the NEA and has been a friend ever since, serving on MTC’s Board for six years and directing LoveMusik for us at the Friedman. We are honored to be producing Prince Of Broadway to celebrate the career of a true genius and to welcome Hal back to MTC.”
Prince is currently directing a new New York City opera production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, set to have its premiere January 6 at Jazz At Lincoln Center.