|Born||Harold Smith Prince
January 30, 1928
New York, New York, U.S.
|Other names||Hal Prince|
|Education||Timothy Dwight School|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
|Occupation||Theatrical producer, director|
|Years active||1955 â€“ present|
|Spouse(s)||Judith Chaplin (1962â€“present; 2 children)|
I didn't go into the theater to be a producer, I went into the theater to be a director.
It's fine when you careen off disasters and terrifyingly bad reviews and rejection and all that stuff when you're young; your resilience is just terrific.
You think, 'Musicals, they must always be romantic' – You'd be surprised how few of them historically have ever been romantic.
It's nice to stay up nights worrying about the material, and not about the investors who gave you $10 million to do your musical.
I really like reaching out and seeing the audience – they're potential audiences! And on occasion I can make them excited about going to the theater again, if they've ceased or gone less.
We've got to find a way to protect the process of making musical theater.
I've seen a lot of 'Show Boats,' but I've never seen the one that thoroughly satisfies me.
I think when you start analyzing trends and start making shows for a particular audience, you are making a fatal move. I think that's why people are doing too many revivals, that's why there's a plethora of rock musicals. There's room for everything, but not room for too much of anything.
I've always loved Victorian melodrama. And I've always liked larger-than-life theater, providing it's truthful and honest. I like what the theater can provide in energy and bombast – I enjoy it when it's large, and by that I don't mean in size, I mean in emotions. Shakespeare did that.
You can't just keep recycling revivals. And you can't keep betting on the efforts of guys like me who've been around. You have to take the next step and bet on the next generation.
I'm just really trying to say what I really mean, which is: 'Your eye's on the prize, your eye's on the future. It's nice to know that a lot of wonderful things have happened to your life and that so much of it has been successful. That's great, but the work is really what makes it fun – and that has to be the future.'
I would like to see more new productions of new material by new composers/lyricists/book writers. I would like to see people take more chances. I think because everything costs so much they're not taking the chances they used to.
I suppose a certain degree of adulthood has entered my life. Aiming for Broadway, I can't think that way any more. Of course, Broadway will always be important. But it's not the focus of everything that you do. You know, I'm very happy I was born when I was, so I got there in time. When it was time to get there.
I always liked the visuals to be choice and at the same time minimalist. And, I love black boxes. After all, that's what theatre is, it's an empty space, and it's both limited and unlimited because the space is the space, but what you can do with people's imaginations is really endless.
The truth of the matter is that I have lasted a long time, and with it comes both good and bad things. One of the good things is that no one can ever take my career away from me. No one can ever say, 'You can't be in the theater any more.'
'Evita' was four pieces of slick paper and a record album. It's the most scary, to sit down and dictate a musical scene by scene. It was a musical unlike anything I'd ever seen before myself.
There's no lack of talent out there. I suspect there is a lack of creative guidance, and that would not be solely the responsibility of a director but also a producer.
Ethel Merman would stay with a show for years and tour with it. So would Mary Martin, the great stars. They recognized the value of that success and nurtured it. Now, you come from Hollywood, you play 12 weeks and go away. I don't think that's the best policy.
There are wonderful composers and librettists out there. It's the lack of creative producers that is troubling.
When I was a 25-year-old kid, I raised $260,000 for my first show, 'The Pajama Game,' in such a homemade, pathetic, endearing way – a buck here, a buck there.
I'm crazy about Dublin. If you went back 3,000 years in my ancestry you wouldn't find a drop of Irish blood in the veins, but I love the place.
I'm always glad to see somebody rethink something rather than reproduce something I did.
I wouldn't be here if it weren't for 'Show Boat.' The kind of theater I chose to be involved in is completely a direct reflection of what 'Show Boat' made possible.
I'm on a single track here – I work to direct what I want to see onstage. I basically have been feeding my own needs – to be working on a specific project at a specific time, and fortunately more often it works than fails.
Nobody has yet proven that taking a chance and doing something unique that an audience isn't used to is a bad idea. What the theater lacks is that kind of courage.
I was nine. I saw Orson Welles in 'Julius Caesar.' It was involving, emotional, imaginative. I've never forgotten it.
I don't look back. I look forward and plan new shows. That's really feeding the most important part of working in the theater.
Everything can't be a postage-stamp-sized project. Everything can't be a chamber piece. Musicals aren't even meant to be that, or identified with it… It's none of it simple.
Most of the big money people don't know what would interest an audience if you did it. They only know what interested the audience last time.
Producers want to put their music behind revivals but I don't think that's a good trend for the theater at all.
Artistic self-indulgence is the mark of an amateur. The temptation to make scenes, to appear late, to call in sick, not to meet deadlines, not to be organized, is at heart a sign of your own insecurity and at worst the sign of an amateur.
The musical has always been in jeopardy – until – or was in jeopardy until it was realised that it is probably the safest living theatre art form.
I always had a good time in theatre, even when shows don't turn out as well as I'd like.
I don't think there's a defined contemporary American musical, do you?
I got successful awfully quick, and I wanted it… But I do think there is responsibility to move the musical theater form forward. I think you always have to be aware of the work that came before and build on that.
Audiences are very willing to be taken somewhere, and to ask an audience beforehand what it wants is probably, I think, a mistake. Much better you should tell them what you want and hope they agree with it.
Collaboration is just, really, a group of people getting in a room with their eye on a very similar prize and wanting to come out with the same show. The director, ultimately, is the guy in front of whom the buck stops. So, he has to have the courage to prevail. But, he has got to have a huge amount of respect for his collaborators.
The idea that I have to be on the same side of the fence as Dan Quayle is cruelly depressing to me, but the truth is, I believe in family values.
I don't compare shows. It's very simple. I don't live in the past. If there's any secret to my longevity, it's living in the future. And a little bit in the present.
When I started producing, it was George Abbott directing and he would let me do the scenery. He just wanted to know where the doors were – the entrances, the exits; the tables, the props – and then I would hire the designer. I took charge of the visuals – scenery and costumes and so on. And, the shows looked wonderful.
I really don't spend time thinking about the past. I think about the future. I'm not stopping.
What's missing in the musical theater is producers willing to nurture new work, raise the money and put it on.
The truth is, for some absurd reason, no one is willing to admit that the interests of the producers and the theater owners are not the same.
I feel so much more comfortable when I'm working on material which makes other people scratch their heads and ask, 'You're going to make a musical out of that?'
You could argue that 'Sweeney Todd' was romantic, if you looked closely at it, but it didn't impart that to its audiences. But it's large, and it's melodramatic, and it's a style I like to work in periodically.
All these actors who died before I was born, all the theaters and the artistic movements – all that stuff fills you up and makes you feel like you're the inheritor of all this information and of all its passion.
I don't know why the guys with the big money don't find five terrific young producers and give each of them enough to commission a musical and to live on for a year. You'd be likely to get at least one project with a future.
The perfect expression of receiving a lifetime award is to be working when they're handing it out.
Audiences are quite happy to be astonished, and they don't care who does that astonishing.
I saw 'On The Town' about nine times. I discovered it. I loved it. I was in college.
I don't like abrasion while I'm working. I don't thrive on chaos. I enjoy what I'm doing, and it seems to work better when I am enjoying it.
I remember when people actually wore coats and ties to theatre every night. They don't anymore. It's very different.
Lyrics can't do what they do – or should do – when you're creating a musical with rock lyrics. There's plenty of room for rock musicals, just not all rock musicals.
I like to do everything you can possibly do before you go into rehearsal, because once we are in rehearsal or on the stage there will be a problem I didn't anticipate. It's really good to think we got it all nailed – of course you've never got it all nailed.
I was there when the quote-unquote golden age of musical theater was flourishing. I met everybody who worked in theater or was famous in theater from the '40s on.
One thing is certain: We can't go back. The musical will never be the same as it was.
Throwing money at something doesn't really create – forgive me that onerous word – art.
The idea is to work and to experiment. Some things will be creatively successful, some things will succeed at the box office, and some things will only – which is the biggest only – teach you things that see the future. And they're probably as valuable as any of your successes.
There have always been revivals. Some have always been successful. And many of them have failed.
There was never any question that I would go to college, that I would travel, that I would go to the theater early and often.
I really wish people – maybe it's naive – wish people had priorities and were willing to be artistic patrons.