Harold Prince has won 21 TONY Awards. The titular Prince of Broadway has directed and/or produced some of the most significant musicals of the last sixty years including West Side Story, Cabaret, Zorba, Fiddler on the Roof, Company, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Phantom of the Opera and one of my personal favorites, On the Twentieth Century. He was involved with dozens and dozens of shows since the 1950s. Yes, there were some admitted failures, notably Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along which closed after sixteen performances in 1981. From that abundance of Broadway material, this retrospective has been assembled.
For fans of musical theater, this evening is a rare opportunity to celebrate some historic artistic and commercial successes, along with a few that were not. Like all “greatest hits” compilations, one can easily find a show or a song which could be added into the mix. When I sat down, I purposely did not peek at the Playbill so I did not know what was coming. That’s a nice way to take this show in. And here I will keep the details to myself. Eight performers doing a little storytelling and highlighting memorable numbers from major works of Broadway history. That’s all you need to know.
Also, you need to know this. Tony Yazbek stole the first Act. Everything he did was outstanding; the tap dancing alone guarantees a Tony nomination. Bryonha Marie Parham’s vocals, especially right before intermission, are not to be missed. Emily Skinner interpreted some well-known classics and nailed them down cold, while looking radiant and gorgeous. Everyone in the cast had great moments. Loved the costumes by William Ivey Long; so many periods to be covered. Beowulf Boritt’s set design kept things moving with interesting and creative hints of what the show was about originally. The cartoon panel was flawless. Special mention to Jon Weston for his sound design in which every word was crisp and clear. To be critical, Act II is not as strong largely due to one segment that did not compare favorably to the frequent revivals.
Yes it helps to be a huge fan of musicals to enjoy Prince of Broadway, directed by Harold Prince himself. And if you are, it’s a must see.