The legendary Broadway director and producer Harold Prince died July 31 at the age of 91 in Reykjavík, Iceland, after a brief illness.
Born January 30, 1928, Harold Smith Prince graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and began working at the age of 20 as a gofer and assistant stage manager for the legendary director George Abbott. This experience directly led to the first two musicals for which Prince received Tony Awards, The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, which Abbott coauthored and directed, with Prince producing.
Prince coproduced many musicals, including the original West Side Story, before going out on his own. Fiorello!, Tenderloin, A Family Affair, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, and many others, were shows that bore the Prince name above the title as producer.
Eventually he turned his attention to directing, staging now-classics like She Loves Me, Cabaret, Zorba, the Stephen Sondheim collaborations Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and Merrily We Roll Along, the Andrew Lloyd Webber collaboration Evita and The Phantom of the Opera, and Parade. Prince’s final Broadway credit was a fitting one, the career retrospective Prince of Broadway, which ran at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2017.
“There are some people you feel we will never be without,” said Chita Rivera said in a statement. “This wonderful man taught me so much and his mastery of musical theatre was without equal,” remarked Andrew Lloyd Webber. “There will never be another like Hal – he had a commitment and an enthusiasm and a work ethic and an endless well of creative passion that he handed down to me and to so many of us working in the theater – we will carry it forward and he will be right with us, the future of theater, as he always was,” added Jason Robert Brown.
Prince, recipient of 21 Tony Awards over the course of his career, is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judy, their children Daisy and Charles, and grandchildren, Phoebe, Lucy, and Felix. As per his wishes, there will be no funeral but there will be a celebration of his life this fall with the people he loved most, the members of the theatrical community that he was a part of for seven decades.