Broadway's legendary Hal Prince dies at 91

Harold Prince, who helmed many a hit Broadway musical, winning 21 Tony Awards, has died aged 91.
Harold Prince, who helmed many a hit Broadway musical, winning 21 Tony Awards, has died aged 91.

Harold Prince, a Broadway director and producer who pushed the boundaries of musical theatre with such groundbreaking shows as The Phantom Of The Opera, Cabaret, Company and Sweeney Todd, and won a staggering 21 Tony Awards, has died.

He was 91.

Prince's publicist Rick Miramontez said his client died on Wednesday after a brief illness in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Prince was known for his fluid, cinematic director's touch and was unpredictable and uncompromising in his choice of stage material.

He often picked challenging, offbeat subjects to musicalise, such as a murderous, knifing-wielding barber who baked his victims in pies or the 19th-century opening of Japan to the West.

Along the way, he helped create some of Broadway's most enduring musical hits, first as a producer of such shows as The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler on the Roof.

He later became a director, overseeing such landmark musicals as Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera.

Prince worked with some of the best-known composers and lyricists in musical theatre, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Andrew Lloyd Webber and, most notably, Stephen Sondheim.

"I don't do a lot of analysing of why I do something," Prince once told The Associated Press. "It's all instinct."

Only rarely, he said, did he take on an idea just for the money, and they "probably were bad ideas in the first place. Theatre is not about that. It is about creating something. The fact that some of my shows have done so well is sheer luck."

During his more than 50-year career, Prince received a record 21 Tony Awards, including two special Tonys, one in 1972 when Fiddler became Broadway's longest running musical then, and another in 1974 for a revival of Candide.

He also was a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.

A musical about Prince called Prince of Broadway opened in Japan in 2015 featuring songs from many of the shows that made him famous. It landed on Broadway in 2017.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Judy; his daughter, Daisy; his son, Charles; and his grandchildren, Phoebe, Lucy, and Felix.

Australian Associated Press