A Conversation With Groundbreaker Harold Prince On the Occasion of a New Phantom Milestone

By Harry Haun
25 Jan 2013

Susan Stroman will co-direct and choreograph Prince on Broadway.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

There, certainly, is a great musical in your life — and you're actually working on one, right? Prince of Broadway? Who's going to play you? Robert Morse?
HP: He did that — a long time ago [Morse played the Prince-inspired Ted Snow in 1958's Say, Darling]. When I saw it, I thought, "My God, have you been tailing me?" He hadn't — but he caught me. It was fun.

Are you a character in Prince of Broadway?
HP: No. I'm a voice, a presence. There are some surprises, and I don't want to give them away. No, I ain't on the stage, I assure you of that.

Considering the career you've had, I'm expecting The Ultimate Broadway Musical. How could it be anything else?
HP: Well, I hope so. It's going to be not quite like anything anybody has ever seen. We'll go into rehearsal next year, with Susan Stroman, Linda Lavin, Sierra Boggess, Richard Kind — 11 people in all, a goodly list of talented people that I've always wanted to work with.

This 25th anniversary performance of Phantom is going to be black-tie. Remember when they had black-tie opening nights?
HP: Yes, I sure do. I remember when people actually wore coats and ties to theatre every night. They don't anymore. It's very different. I wore a black tie to the opening of Phantom.

Your opening-night party was at the Beacon Theatre. Do you recall anything about it?
HP: Not too much. I just remember it was very elaborate and swell, very festive. I met David Merrick coming in, and I was glad to see him. He had had a stroke and could not talk, really, but he was very friendly. We started the same year — 1954 — across the street from each other. I was in the St. James with The Pajama Game, and he was in the Majestic with Fanny.

I always had a good time in theatre, even when shows don't turn out as well as I'd like. I've always been happy in the theatre — a Pollyanna — but I don't live much in the past. That's maybe more to the point than anything else. I really like to live in the future.