Listen: Remembering Harold Prince, Synonymous With Broadway
"Musical Michael guest all that coming up on the frame news comes today that Broadway director and producer Harold Prince is dead at the the age of ninety one according to a statement the musical theater giant died in Reykjavik Iceland after a short illness a prolific producer prince had his hands sculpting some the most endearing and enduring musical classics including West Side Story Sweeney Todd and fiddler on the roof. Jesse Green is the CO chief theater critic of the New York Times uh-huh any join me to talk about Herald prince in his career in musical theater. I started out by playing him a little bit of a tune. You might have heard before from west side story what Prince again as stage manager and producer not as part of the creative team of these shows. It's important to the rest of his career that he knew how to put shows on and not just how to artistically lead them and in west side story and some of the early shows we're seeing more of a matter of his taste which was different from the taste of a lot of the people working at the time then we are car sharing his artistic vision which came into play a little bit later the modern musical can be very political and have a strong point of view. I'm thinking of maybe Hamilton or we're going to be kind of a political and completely bland like Disney's beauty and the beast what was Herald Prince's bias but he was certainly interested in talking about the real world within the theater he was not only talking about it but bringing that to the forefront so a typical thing that how prints how prince show would do would be to invert the usual way you would get information in the great musicals of the Golden Age of Broadway you would typically get a story with characters that suggested a theme what Prince and his collaborators started to do in the seventies in particular is to flip that and begin with the theme and then fit the characters and plot around it so often you get these concepts musically that don't even have very much of a plot in and some people would say even characters but have these very powerful themes that people related to an example would be company where the team is marriage and you don't even really know exactly what's going on for most of the show. I'll play a clip from company. This is Elaine stritch singing. Here's to the ladies who lunch stay smart are again rushing to their classes in October. What was his reputation in terms of working with actors like Elaine Elaine stritch well. He was known as a pretty good disciplinarian. I'll say that much but you had to be if you were going to work with Elaine stritch and the kinds of people that he I chose to cast and that came from the fact that he had been producer and often was the producer of his own show so he had double quote with him whenever he went into that rehearsal room. I WANNA to play a clip from a New York Times interview with Prince that you have up on your site now. This is him talking about the aftermath of a nervous breakdown in its youth. I came to my my parents and said I think there's something really wrong. It's just a black cloud over everything and within a space space about three months it began to go away. The legacy of it was that I I came out of it. A different person extremely ambitious. I wanted what I wanted and I was Gonna get it. I can't help but think of another contemporary prey Broadway producers Scott Rudin right now who is equally driven. Was He really that driven was he. I guess somebody who would never take no for an answer. He certainly it was driven but he actually was terrifically enthusiastic and generally very positive. I actually was his apprentice at one point in the <hes> in the eighties and and I got to see him at work and I never saw him fall into those bunks that most artists do there was always more work to be done on the current in project but more than that he would have two three four five other projects in various states of readiness as you"