Home / Entertainment / At 90, Hal Prince Dishes on ‘Fiddler,’ ‘Cabaret’ and Reining in Ambition

At 90, Hal Prince Dishes on ‘Fiddler,’ ‘Cabaret’ and Reining in Ambition


Front row from left, Hal Prince, Jan Horvath, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh celebrating Mr. Prince’s 90th birthday after a efficiency of “The Phantom of the Opera” previous this month.

Jeremy Daniel

Hal Prince is popping 90 lately.

The storied Broadway manufacturer and director — a key participant in the whole thing from “Fiddler on the Roof” and “West Side Story” to “Sweeney Todd” and “The Phantom of the Opera” — has gained 21 Tony Awards, greater than someone else in historical past.

To mark the instance, he sat down with Jeffrey Seller, the lead manufacturer of “Hamilton,” to speak about his occupation, and the ensuing three-hour interview, “The Hal Prince Talks,” is being launched in portions beginning lately on Sirius XM.

Here are six tidbits that stuck our ears:


Mr. Prince in his place of job at Rockefeller Plaza in 1972.

Jack Manning/The New York Times

1. No Times Square for him. Mr. Prince has labored in Rockefeller Center for 70 years, transferring across the Art Deco advanced. “I have never worked in any other office building,” he stated. “I’m totally spoiled, because it’s the center of the universe.”

2. Setting the Stage. On Saturday afternoons as a kid he would concentrate to proclaims of the Metropolitan Opera and degree them himself in a field at house. “I had a cardboard stage and some tin soldiers from the Five and Dime, and I’d listen to the plot and then move the soldiers around while they were singing on the stage of the Met,” he stated. “Since they were always singing in a foreign language, which I didn’t speak, my first act would end sometimes before the first act at the Met, and sometimes they’d say ‘And the great golden curtain has just closed,’ and I was still in the middle of the first act.”

Julius Caesar - September 11, 1938 Orson Welles in "Julius Caesar"

three. The first musical he noticed on Broadway? “White Horse Inn,” starring Kitty Carlisle, in 1936 or 1937; he grew up in New York, and his oldsters took him to the theater weekly. His first play? “Julius Caesar,” starring Orson Welles, round the similar time. “What in hell my parents were doing, taking me to that, I don’t know. At the age of 8 or 9!”

four. Reining in ambition. At 14, he stated, “I had a nervous breakdown — the ambition thing was so strong, and I don’t quite know why, but I do know I was talking to myself, walking in the park, and I knew I was getting into the fantasy of what my career would be too much.” He rebounded, but if he were given his first process, with the famed manufacturer George Abbott, “Everybody liked me, but they also seemed to back off a little when I came into a room.” Mr. Prince’s answer? “I took my desk calendar, and I wrote for one year, at the top of it, ‘Watch It!’ ” he stated. “It helped me calm down a little.”

Zero Mostel " If I Were a Rich Man " Fiddler on the Roof "Fiddler on the Roof" on the 1965 Tony Awards

five. “That would be the sweetest thing of all.” The Broadway display that has paid over three,000 % to its preliminary traders? “Fiddler.” “That’s pretty amazing,” he stated. “But ‘Phantom’ has exceeded that now.”

Cabaret - Two Ladies Video through Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

6. The M.C. in “Cabaret” used to be his concept. His personal revel in serving in the Army in Stuttgart, Germany, impressed him so as to add the nature to the 1966 musical, which he directed and produced. The musical used to be tailored from a Christopher Isherwood tale, and turned into a film in 1972. “I had hung out in a club called Maxim’s in the basement of a bombed-out church, and there was a little M.C. with lipstick and eye shadow and false eyelashes, and he’d tell terrible tacky jokes. And there were three very chunky girls in butterfly costumes dancing around him, and one drunk at the bar, and one drunk asleep at the table, and me in uniform, just thinking I’d been reborn and gone to heaven — this is it.”

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