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Hal Prince (1928–2019), Broadway musical giant

by Kirk Fox

Legendary producer and director won a record-breaking 21 Tony Awards.

Hal Prince was a legendary Broadway musical producer and director involved in many great musicals including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cabaret,” “West Side Story,” and “Sweeney Todd.” He won a record 21 Tony Awards, his first in 1955 as co-producer of “The Pajama Game”, his last in 1999 as director of “Parade.” He collaborated many times with composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim including the musicals “Company” and “Sweeney Todd.” He worked with Andrew Lloyd Weber as the director of “Evita” and “Phantom of the Opera.” Prince was the basis for John Lithgow’s character in the Bob Fosse film, “All That Jazz.” A musical, “Prince of Broadway,” about his life, debuted on Broadway in 2017.

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Died: Wednesday, July 31, 2019 (Who else died on July 31?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 91.

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Prince based Joel Grey’s character in “Cabaret” on a nightclub he attended while in the Army in Germany: “I had hung out in a club called Maxim’s in the basement of a bombed-out church, and there was a little emcee 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.” —New York Times interview in 2018

What they said about him: “Thank you Hal Prince for spending your life telling stories that challenged & provoked us & for making the musical a vital, life-changing art form.” —Actor and singer Ben Platt

“RIP our dear Hal Prince. You inspired. You will ALWAYS inspire.” —Tony Award-winning actor Kristin Chenoweth

“This man is responsible for so many of us loving and living in the theater. The loss of a giant. So much gratitude for everything he gave us. RIP Hal Prince.” —Singer Josh Groban

Full obituary: New York Post

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