Hal Prince Asks, Where Are the Visionary Producers?

News   Hal Prince Asks, Where Are the Visionary Producers? Harold Prince, a multiple Tony Award-winner as both a director and producer, pulled away from producing more than 20 years ago, but is back in that position for Hollywood Arms, the Carrie Hamilton-Carol Burnett play opening Oct. 31 at the Cort Theatre.

Harold Prince, a multiple Tony Award-winner as both a director and producer, pulled away from producing more than 20 years ago, but is back in that position for Hollywood Arms, the Carrie Hamilton-Carol Burnett play opening Oct. 31 at the Cort Theatre.

What made the visionary producer of West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, A Little Night Music and more return to producing?

"Well, my wife, Judy Prince, has been after me for years," Prince said in the Oct. 22-28 Playbill On-Line Brief Encounter interview. "She's angry I stopped. But I stopped for a very good reason. Twenty-some-odd years ago, I stopped on the grounds that I was sick of reading 'Producer-Comma-Director.' I wanted people to know I'm a director. It somehow seemed I was muddying the waters some. What's happened, of course, is that's not a problem anymore. So I'm perfectly willing to have 'Director-Comma Producer.' I'm not a snob about producing. It's just that the directing is the core of my work. I went to see a show last winter. Good play. And there were 23 producers' names over the title. First I smiled and thought, Gee, I hope they win the Tony because I want to see that with my own eyes. And then I thought, what is that? What does that say about producing?"

He added, "It says it's expensive, but, you know, people can invest in shows and they don't have to have their names over the title. The simple truth is you can't have producing by committee and we need creative producers. That is a breed that still exists, of course, but in smaller numbers than when there were single people and partners presenting plays. I would love to see a modicum of that in the business."

Prince also spoke about his collaboration with Carol Burnett on her new autobiographical play, co-written by her late daughter; and about his impending staging of Gold!, the new musical by John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim. To view the Brief Encounter with Prince, click here.

— By Kenneth Jones