Hal Prince, who racked up more than 20 Tony Awards over a legendary 50-year Broadway career, died Wednesday after a brief illness in Iceland, his publicist said. He was 91.
Prince, born and raised in Manhattan, was the director behind iconic Broadway hits including West Side Story (1958), Cabaret (1966), Company (1970), Evita (1979) and The Phantom of the Opera (1988).
Throughout a career that began as an assistant stage manager after two years in the army during the Korean War, Prince won 21 Tony Awards, more than any other individual, including best musical for The Pajama Game in 1954, Damn Yankees in 1955 and Fiddler On The Roof in 1965.
Prince’s Fiddler, which he produced alongside director Jerome Robbins and star Zero Mostel, was, for a time, the longest-running show in Broadway history with more than 3,000 performances between 1964 and 1972.
“I became a producer because fate took me there, and I was delighted,” Prince wrote in his 1974 memoir. “I used producing to become what I wanted to be, a director. (Ultimately, I hired myself, which is more than anyone else would do.)”
Along with his own work, Prince also lined up a who’s who of collaborators, including Bob Fosse, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, for various projects.
“Not just the prince of musicals, the crowned head who directed two of the greatest productions of my career, Evita and Phantom,” Webber said in a statement. “This wonderful man taught me so much and his mastery of musical theatre was without equal.”
Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper who worked with Prince on his final Broadway production, the 2017 musical career retrospective aptly titled Prince Of Broadway, told the New York Daily News: “I don’t know if it was his insightful intuition, his thoughtful wisdom, his uncanny luck or some powerful combination of all of these that made his choices sparkle with relevance and audience pleasing brilliance.”
He added Wednesday: “He’s given the American musical theatre some of its brightest jewels. I doubt if there will ever be another theatre artist who will create such a colossal and enduring legacy.”
In 2006, Prince was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tony Awards for his contribution to the stage.
Prince is survived by his wife, Judy and two children, Daisy and Charles. – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service