The Shmooze

Stars and Theater Greats Gather to Fete Hal Prince

By Masha Leon

  • Print
  • Share Share

“How about an a photo for the Forward?” I asked Harold Prince during our chat at the September 16 American Theatre Wing’s “Hail the Prince of Broadway” Gala at the Plaza.

Prince — winner of 21 Tony Awards for, among others, “Show Boat,” “Evita,” “Sweeney Todd”. “Candide,” “Cabaret” and “Fiddler on the Roof” (more than any other individual) — and a career spanning more than 40 years who has transformed the American musical— beamed for the camera.

“What a wonderful outpouring of support from our community, Heather Hitchens, American Theatre Wing’s Executive Director, told the black tie crowd, which raised a record $700,000 “ to benefit the organization’s educational and outreach programs.” Co-chaired by Carol Burnett, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Jackman, the award presenter was Angela Lansbury.

Karen Leon
Angela Lansbury

Among the 450 guests were Harold Prince-affiliated show celebrities Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley, producers of [2005 revival] “Fiddler on the Roof;” Alan Cumming, Tyne Daly, Judy Kaye, Patrick Stewart, Star Jones, Oliver Platt, and Pia Lindstrom.

My first contact with Hal Prince was following the 1967 opening night of “Cabaret.” A nasty couple next to us guffawed whenever Joel Grey, — in his landmark role the painted master of ceremonies at a Berlin nightclub — came on stage. When Grey sang “If you could see her through my eyes, she wouldn’t look Jewish at all”— apropos a gorilla —  the pair’s guffawing made everyone in our row uncomfortable. I wrote Mr. Prince how this disrupted our enjoyment of the evening. A week later, I received a set of prime tickets to see the show again!

In 2005, at a post-opening party for “Fiddler on the Roof” starring Harvey Fierstein as Tevye, with the “Fiddler” triumvirate Jerry Bock (music) Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) and Joseph Stein (book) present, it was mentioned that Prince’s choice for Tevye had been Zero Mostel who became the template against whom all future Tevyes would be measured.

When Hal Prince was presented with the American Friends of Tel Aviv University’s President Award at the October 29, 1997 “A Broadway Salute to Israel” gala reception at The University Club, award presenter, then university president Yoram Dinstein recalled: “When my wife and I came to New York in the 1960s, she wondered why all the theater playbills were headed by a Prince.” With his family present, a kvelling Prince recalled his first visit to Israel to mount an American-Habimah co-production of “West Side Story.” Introduced to David Ben-Gurion, Prince got a big stare. “It’s a Leonard Bernstein musical,” someone explained. “Ben-Gurion replied: “Leonard I know. ‘West Side Story’ I don’t know.”

In 2000 President Bill Clinton presented Prince with The National Medal of Arts, and lauded the extraordinary producer-director for having “changed the nature of the American musical.”

Perhaps — with the help of the American Theatre Wing — it’s time Prince Hal was dubbed “King” of Broadway.

P.S. As reported in the July-August issue of The Smithsonian, Joel Grey has donated the straw boater he wore as master of ceremonies during the gorilla scene in “Cabaret” to the American History Museum.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: show boat, hal prince, fiddler on the roof, candide, cabaret

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.