Break every single light bulb on Broadway, because dimming the lights isn’t enough to honor Harold Prince, who I’m pretty sure provided the sperm sample that was used to birth the 20th century Broadway musical. Harold Prince died today. He was 91.
Broadway World says that Hal Prince’s family confirmed the news, saying that he died in Reykjavik, Iceland after a brief illness.
He is missed and loved by his family – Judy, his wife of 56 years; his daughter, Daisy; his son, Charles; and his 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.
If you were in a musical in high school, there’s a very good chance that Hal Prince helped make the original production happen. Hal started his loooooong career in the THI-TURR in 1950 as a stage manager, and later became a producer when he co-produced The Pajama Game in 1954. From there he helped produce Damn Yankees, West Side Story, and Fiorello!. He then started producing his own Broadway productions like A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, She Loves Me, Fiddler On The Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, and A Little Night Music.
In the 1960s, Hal decided he really wanted to put on a beret and yell ACTION! into a megaphone (oh wait, that’s movies) by directing musicals. He directed She Loves Me, Cabaret, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Candide, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Merrily We Roll Along, Diamonds (I don’t know that that is, I just like the sound of it), The Phantom of the Opera, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and Parade. The final show he ever directed was 2015’s Prince of Broadway, which is a revue that celebrates his career.
He’s won the most Tony Awards in history with 21.
Of course every musical theater performer with a Twitter account has said words about the passing of Hal Prince, but here’s some from two Queens of Broadway:
I am saddened beyond words. There are some people you feel we will never be without. Hal is one of them. I owe so much to him. He knows my love for him. #HalPrince #Broadway pic.twitter.com/G2uhhHPMZ6
— Chita Rivera (@Chita_Rivera) July 31, 2019
RIP Hal Prince💔
What a sad day
— Bernadette Peters (@OfficialBPeters) July 31, 2019
That celebration of his life isn’t only going to be a memorial for Harold Prince, it’s going to be the life and death of every theater queen. Because when Chita, Bernadette, La LuPone, and Liza get together to do a number for him, theater queens everywhere are going to fall into a grave.
Rest in peace, Hal Prince.