What's it about?
Prince of Broadway is a musical that showcases the career of famous Broadway producer and director Hal Prince. It consists of songs from some of his most well known musicals as well as some of his "flops" while also including an element of narration about Hal's take of the role of luck and success told in small vignettes by an ensemble cast.
What I experienced?
"Cheyanne, please stop being late to stuff!" is the sentence that kept replaying over and over in my mind as I power walked all the way to the theatre for a lovely two o'clock matinee. Going into this production, I knew a fair amount about Hal Prince's work, considering he has worked on some of the most beloved musicals of all time, including shows like West Side Story, Cabaret and The Phantom of the Opera. What I didn't know was what the show itself would be about. Was it going to be biographical? Was it going to be a stage play about his life and career? I didn't have the slightest clue.
The show begins with a man on stage talking in the first person as Hal Prince himself. This becomes a reoccurring event throughout the entire production - the entire ensemble cast speaks as Hal at some point - which I really loved! The show features full length songs from seventeen of Hal's musicals!! SEVENTEEN! Some of them I knew very well and others, I felt much too young to know. While it wasn't always easy to get the context of every single song, especially the ones I didn't know, it was still so much fun to be able to see snippets of them all. Hearing songs from musicals like The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees and Showboat -musicals from the 50's and 60's that I have studied but have never seen, helped me see the progress of Hal's work over the years.
Seeing this production made me feel like I had seen multiple musicals in one sitting. But the most incredible part of the entire production for me was watching the ensemble transform for every single song for each new musical. I started to think about how much work it would take to be in a show like this, where it's not just singing one song from a musical and moving on but understanding the entire show and the entire character arc to get it across for that one number. I found that so impressive, especially watching Tony Yazbeck in the number "The Right Girl" from Follies. He has an entire number where he's clearly heartbroken that he missed out on the opportunity to be with the right woman and he tap dances away his frustrations. I was in awe by Tony's incredible talent as a dancer but mostly by how much he made me feel about a character that I had never seen before, from a show I had never seen before.
While I loved the entire concept of the show and being able to get a nice taste of all of Hal's different productions, I took away more from the story. Each member of the ensemble - as they speak as Hal in first person - gave me insight on how much Hal places an emphasis on hard work and "a little bit of luck". It revealed how he found success and it did not surprise me that it sounds a lot like the success story of other successful people. There seems to be a very common thread among them all: "Do The Work", know the right people and work your ass off.
P.S. "If I Were A Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani sounds a lot like "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler On The Roof and I can't stop thinking about it (I later found out it was an adaptation of it). Can I also say how freaking amazing it is that Hal Prince directed this show himself?! The man is eighty-nine years old and still going at it!!! WHAT A LEGEND!
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