Prince, who has earned a record-breaking 21 Tony Awards in his more than 60-year career, will be presented with the honor by his longtime collaborator Stephen Sondheim. Prince and Sondheim revolutionized musical theatre together, collaborating on such musicals as Company, Follies, Pacific Overtures, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along. As director and producer, Prince earned six of his Tony honors from Sondheim musicals.
O'Neill executive director Preston Whiteway said in a statement, "Hal Prince is an incredibly worthy recipient, not only is he a legend – the force behind many of the most iconic and important productions on the world stage in the last 60 years – but he has long been inspired by America’s first major playwright, Eugene O’Neill. In fact, one of his first New York productions was an O’Neill play, Great God Brown, and he certainly has carried Eugene’s ‘pioneering spirit’ throughout his amazing career."
The 82-year-old director is currently preparing his latest stage endeavor, the world-premiere musical Paradise Found, a new collaboration with Susan Stroman, who worked with Prince on the 1994 revival of Show Boat. Set to begin in May at London's Menier Chocolate Factory, the work is based on the Joseph Roth novel "The Tale of the 1002nd Night" and will have music by Johann Strauss Jr. adapted by Jonathan Tunick, with a book by Richard Nelson and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh.
Prince began his career in 1948 as an assistant stage manager, under the auspice of Broadway director George Abbot. After stage managing such musicals as Call Me Madam and Wonderful Town, Prince aligned with Robert E. Griffith to produce the musicals The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town, West Side Story, Fiorello! and Tenderloin. He began his directorial career when he took over for George Abbott on the troubled Kander and Ebb musical A Family Affair. He continued to produce with such musicals as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Fiddler on the Roof; Flora, The Red Menace; and She Loves Me, which he also directed.
On Broadway, he has directed the original productions of Cabaret, Zorba, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, On the Twentieth Century, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Merrily We Roll Along, The Phantom of the Opera, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Parade and Lovemusik.