Musical theatre workshops and productions

Hal Prince….again…

Hal Prince…one more time.  Here are some of the wonderful things I learned from the PBS biography on the award winning Broadway producer, director, stage manager, consultant, etc. – Hal Prince.

  • Angela Lansbury tells the story of the first preview of SWEENEY TODD. The first time everything comes together – costumes, sets, orchestra, makeup and audience.  Her dressing room was in the basement and the costume crew, including the costume designer, was eating Italian food just before the show was to start.  I am sure they had a busy, crazy day and they thought they could relax a bit before they had to go into the house and watch the show.  But, as Angela Lansbury, who played Mrs. Lovett, walked by them the designer said something like, “You cannot go out there with that apron – it is too clean.” She took the apron off of Ms. Lansbury, threw it on the ground and then picked up a plate of spaghetti and tossed it onto the apron.  Lovett played the first preview smelling of tomato sauce and parmesan cheese!
  • Hal Prince always schedules a 10am production meeting with his next project the day after a show opens. It keeps him humble and he is surrounded by colleagues if the show gets bad reviews or good ones.
  • Prince revealed that he still has fears about his job in the theatre. “Those fears within us is what makes us work so hard.”
  • “You work just as hard on a flop as you do on a hit.”
  • He says after all these decades in the theatre, he still cannot predict if his shows will be a hit or a flop, but if you can grab them in the beginning, you have a chance.
  • He talked a little bit about how Broadway has changed. Of course, the ticket prices are much higher, the technology has changed significantly. And, with a tone of disappointment, he talked about how nowadays some musicals just want to “entertain.”  He said, “I wanted to provoke a conversation and not just entertain.”
  • “Every day, I cannot wait to work with my collaborators.”

Lots to think about here.

Larry Little


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