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The TodayTix Staff Remembers Our Favorite Hal Prince Shows

July 31, 2019 by TodayTix
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Hal Prince (Photographed by Robert Rosamilio)

The legendary, innovative, and pioneering producer/director Hal Prince passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 91. While we’re grieving this incredible loss for the theater community, we’re also celebrating the indelible mark Prince left on our stages everywhere.

In honor of Prince, the TodayTix staff assembled some of our favorite shows and productions he’s helmed and/or produced over the years. Who’s like Hal Prince? Damn few.

Company – Diane (Marketing Team)
Hal Prince revolutionized the way we see theater with his production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company.” The Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 1971 featured a non-linear plot, making it non-traditional, and a contemporary storyline about a young bachelor who fears (and is equally as desperate for) intimacy and love. “Being Alive” is hands-down one of the best musical theater songs to date, and I will forever be in awe of Hal’s ability to bring these multi-faceted and extremely relatable characters to life.

The Pajama Game – Jess (Tech Team)
Hal Prince’s first co-produced show “The Pajama Game” in 1954 also won him a Tony for Best Musical. This relatable show about falling in (and denying to be in) love, unionizing, and demanding a raise features songs like “Once a Year Day,” “Hernando’s Hideaway,” “I’m not at all in love,” and many others that will get stuck in your head. This show was an incredible start to Prince’s incredible career and “Steam Heat” continues to be my go-to song for a Fosse-style dance party.

Fiddler on the Roof – Ali (Expansion Team)
It’s hard to articulate just how monumental “Fiddler on the Roof” is, both as a historic piece of musical theatre as well as an important representation of Jewish history in popular culture. When “Fiddler” was first in production, it received criticism that it might be “too Jewish” for commercial success, and yet it went on to become the longest-running Broadway show of its time. Oftentimes, Golden Age musicals do not feel relevant in the modern era, but Fiddler’s message of tolerance is as poignant as ever. Thank you, Hal Prince for bringing this story to life!

Cabaret – Suzy (Marketing Team)
Hal Prince teamed up with an up-and-coming writing team John Kander and Fred Ebb, and legend has it, Prince almost gave up musical theater until the success of the show which won him his first directing Tony. This form-shaking, timely musical shone a light on new theater talents and a new way to tackling tough topics onstage. Every time I hear “Maybe This Time” or “Life Is a Cabaret,” I’m reminded how Sally Bowles is one of the most powerful and complex female characters seen onstage. Thank you, Mr. Prince.

Follies – Zach (Tech Team)
“Follies” is, on its surface, a show about a reunion of showgirls set just before their former theater is to be demolished. But Hal Prince, as co-director, helped make it about so much more than that. It’s about fixation on the past, obsession, the lies we tell ourselves and each other, and the illusions of nostalgia. It’s a beautiful, messy, heartbreaking show that’s literally haunted, with the characters’ former selves lurking behind and between them. Its methods of storytelling pushed the theater industry forward in so many ways, and each time I come back to it, I find myself in awe all over again at Hal’s talent for drawing the universality out of such unique, specific stories.

Damn Yankees – Nina (Marketing Team)
“Damn Yankees” holds a special place in my heart. The 1958 film version is one of the movie musicals that made me fall in love with the genre as a kid, and the 1994 revival was one of the first shows I saw on Broadway. Neither would have existed had Hal Prince not produced the original in 1955. I’m sure I’m not the only dance enthusiast who’s forever grateful that Prince insisted the role of Lola be played by a dancer, and that his production brought together OG triple threat Gwen Verdon and choreographer Bob Fosse. Think of all the musical theater brilliance that probably wouldn’t exist had Prince not helped to forge this epic duo: “Sweet Charity,” “Chicago,” the list goes on.

Merrily We Roll Along – Noa (Expansion Team)
Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince were a legendary team until the infamous “Merrily We Roll Along” merrily flopped on Broadway. The show itself was a profound depiction of growing up, but the story behind it is even more moving. Although it failed financially and struggled to fill capacity, “Merrily” jumpstarted the careers of so many young hopefuls, showing them the beauty and brutality of Broadway before many of them were even legally allowed to drink. No one at the time understood the incredible potential this musical had. But who knows? Maybe this is the revival we need to remember Hal Prince. To remember that even his “flops” were sensations.

West Side Story – Gabriel (Accounts Team)
How many Broadway musicals can really be called revolutionary in practically every aspect? While the music and choreography of “West Side Story” have stood the test of time, so has Hal Prince’s original direction. From the iconic fire escape “Tonight” duet to the seamless incorporation of dance into the Sharks’ and Jets’ prowling the streets, something that could’ve easily been ridiculous and laughable in less deft hands. Every character in the musical is complex and flawed, yet sympathetic; every moment is memorable and poignant. And if anyone could improve upon the work of William Shakespeare, it was Hal Prince.