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R.I.P. Harold Prince, legendary Broadway director and producer, dead at 91

on July 31, 2019, 12:37pm

Harold Prince, the director, producer, and general impresario behind a number of Broadway’s most enduring productions, has passed away. According to a representative, Prince died on Wednesday morning in Reykjavik, Iceland following a short illness (via The Hollywood Reporter). He was 91.

Born January 30th, 1928 in New York City, Harold “Hal” Prince will very likely go down as the most successful Broadway figure of all time. As a producer in the 1950s and 1960s, he was behind stagings of Damn Yankees, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, The Pajama Game, Fiorello!, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. As a director, he helmed Sweeney Todd, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and revivals of hits like Cabaret and Show Boat.

At times, Prince wore both director and producer hats. He did so on Cabaret, Pacific Overtures, Merrily We Roll Along, A Little Night Music, Follies, and It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman. In 2017, he and Susan Stroma co-directed a musical retrospective of his work called Prince of Broadway.

His unique abilities to spot Broadway-worthy stories in atypical subjects and attract top talent to the projects made him unmatched in his contributions to musical theater. He holds more Tony Awards than any other single person, having been awarded a total of 21 trophies over his years. Eight came for Best Musical (with eight more nominations), eight for directing (again with another eight nominations), and two for producing (of three total nominations). 1972’s Fiddler on the Roof and 1974’s Candide garnered him special Tony Awards, while he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award Tony in 2006.

1960’s Fiorello! earned Prince the Pulitzer Prize for drama, an incredibly rare occurrence for a musical.

“He always makes me want to go to the piano and write,” Stephen Sondheim told NPR’s All Things Considered in 2017. “I always leave meetings with Hal just bursting with ideas. Hal’s as stimulating as anybody I’ve ever met.”

Prince is survived by his wife, Judy Chaplin, whom he married in 1962. They had two children, theatrical director Daisy Prince and classical music conductor Charlies Prince, while Prince was also step-father to Judy’s first son, actor Alexander Chaplin.

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