In his new memoir Sense of Occasion, Hal Prince explains that Prince of Broadway, the new Broadway revue celebrating and sampling Prince’s extraordinary 70-year career in the theater, “was entirely the idea of a Canadian producer” (not, in other words, Prince’s idea), and concedes that it is in several ways at odds with the landmark musicals for which Prince is best known.
The revue is intended “just to entertain” while by contrast “I have a reputation for doing ‘dark’ musicals, and certainly I have done shows to create controversy, to make political or social statements,” says the legendary theater artist who was the original producer of West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof; director of Evita, Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd; producer-director of Cabaret, Candide and Pacific Overtures.
Prince of Broadway is not dark and it doesn’t make a statement. (Knowledgeable theatergoers may well find it controversial as a result.) Yet, long after the unnamed Canadian dropped out of the project, Prince has made Prince of Broadway his own, choosing it for his first directing gig on Broadway in ten years. Despite what seems an ill-conceived idea, and for all its flaws, he and co-director Susan Stroman do manage to find some sweet spots in staging this highlights reel of a show.