All tagged Harold Prince

Remembering Grind

An eagerly anticipated musical of the 1984-1985 Broadway season was Grind, set to be Harold Prince’s big project of the time, but ultimately part of a sequence of lulls in what was an otherwise prolific career of genius and artistry. Grind was an edgy musical that depicted the harsh divide between races in burlesque theatre of Chicago in the 1930s. With a book by Fay Kanin, and a score by Larry Grossman (music) and Ellen Fitzhugh (lyrics), Grind was an ambitious piece of musical theatre that had a hard time settling into what it wanted to be. Sometimes, it played like a broad comedy, sometimes it felt as though it was aiming for serious drama, and the show-within-a-show moments often left audiences feeling like they were watching a musical revue, even when those numbers were making commentary about what was happening onstage. Still, there was something special about Grind sometimes did work, and much of that came from just how daring it set out to be. 

Remembering A Little Night Music

By 1973, the combination of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and director Harold Prince had revolutionized Broadway with two compelling musicals, both featuring non-linear storytelling and taking a brutally honest look at life, its trials and tribulations, and everything in-between. Those musicals were (of course) Company and Follies. For their next Broadway outing, Sondheim and Prince would venture into less groundbreaking territory structurally, but with no less artistry and impact.  

Book Review: Harold Prince — Sense of Occasion

The new book Sense of Occasion by theatrical director and producer Harold Prince is a memoir wherein he explores his vast career in theatre starting with The Pajama Game and then brings us up to date with his plans for the future. It is a curious book. For the first half, it is a reprint of Prince’s 1974 biography Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre, with a page or two at the end of each chapter adding additional reflections and making new observations that only time and distance can make space for. The second half is a continuation of Prince’s story, walking us through all his productions post Candide (1974), giving most of the shows in that section the similar treatment of telling us how they came to fruition. More exciting than the fascinating history itself are Prince’s candid observations and assessments of his own work. He is his own worst critic, but he is also a conscientious man who takes his obligations to artists and audiences seriously.

Broadway Musical Time Machine: Looking Back at Merrily We Roll Along

Coming off a string of critical hits in the 1970s (CompanyFolliesA Little Night MusicSweeney Todd) composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and Director Harold Prince seemed like the unstoppable duo with boundless creative collateral going into the 1980s. Their next project together, however, did not ignite as previous productions had and the 1981 calamitous flop Merrily We Roll Along would bring their happy collaboration to an end for two decades. That is not to say that Merrily We Roll Along did not eventually prove to be an effective (if complicated) musical that would have an enduring shelf life and myriad theatre companies taking innovative approaches to the material to solve its alleged problems.