Multiple Tony-Winning Director-Producer Hal Prince Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

Playbill.com's new feature series, Their Favorite Things, asks members of the theatre community to share the Broadway performances that most affected them as part of the audience.

This week we spotlight the choices of Hal Prince, the multiple Tony Award-winning producer and director, who is currently celebrating the 25th Broadway anniversary of his Tony-winning production of The Phantom of the Opera.

"These are ten choice productions that I remember vividly," Prince told Playbill.com. "However, there are 'tens' of other productions I admire just as much, maybe more, or maybe almost as much."

Hal Prince
Hal Prince (Monica Simoes)

(Clicking on a name bolded in blue will take readers to that actor or show's entry in the Playbill Vault.)

 

Julius Caesar
<i>Julius Caesar</i>
Julius Caesar

 

"Orson Welles' modern-dress production was produced by the Mercury Theatre, and I saw it when I was nine years old. It was both monumental and minimalist."

 

 

Moby Dick – Rehearsed
<i>Moby Dick</i>
Moby Dick

"Another minimalist production by Welles (pictured), which I saw at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. It was indescribably imaginative and moving."

 

 

Porgy and Bess

Todd Duncan and Anne Brown in <i>Porgy and Bess</i>
Todd Duncan and Anne Brown in Porgy and Bess


"Both the original in 1935 and the revival in 1942 were brilliantly realized musically and in performance. They both starred Todd Duncan and Anne Brown, but later in the revival's run, Etta Moten, who the Gershwins originally wrote the opera for, brilliantly replaced Anne Brown."

Long Day's Journey Into Night
<i>Long Day&#39;s Journey Into Night</i>
Long Day's Journey Into Night

"I saw the original production five times in its first two weeks. I've always been staggered by O'Neill, and this production was perfect."

 

 

South Pacific
Mary Martin in <i>South Pacific</i>
Mary Martin in South Pacific (Fred Fehl)

"I was lucky to attend the opening night at the Majestic, and it was epic in every respect. Not only were the performances pluperfect, but so was the staging. It was the first and most successful use of continuous action in a musical. Up until that time, we expected utility music from the orchestra pit to play while the scene changes were made. It was a convention, and South Pacific changed all that."

 

 

Jumbo
<i>Jumbo</i>
Jumbo (Vandamm Studio)

"The first collaboration of Rodgers, Hart, and George Abbott (his first musical directorial assignment). I saw it in the old Hippodrome as a child. It was an environmental production, taking place in a circus ring, and it began with Paul Whiteman on a white horse and his entire orchestra following him, playing the overture. It was a kid's dream."

 

Lady in the Dark

Gertrude Lawrence and Bert Lytell in <i>Lady in the Dark</i>
Gertrude Lawrence and Bert Lytell in Lady in the Dark (Vandamm Studio)


"It was as innovative and glamorous an evening as I've ever witnessed in the theatre. The performances were charming and bold and the subject (psychoanalysis) was unique."

 

 
West Side Story
Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert in <i>West Side Story</i>
Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert in West Side Story

"It was daring and brilliantly successful. The first time I had seen Bernstein and Robbins collaborate was On the Town, which I loved. But West Side Story was a watershed experience – not just for its creators, but for the theatre."

Joel Grey in Cabaret
Joel Grey in Cabaret

Cabaret

"It was groundbreaking. We ignored a lot of the prevailing rules and told the story in a form unlike any previous musical, which set the stage for many similarly-structured shows."

 

 

Sierra Boggess and Hugh Panaro in <i>The Phantom of the Opera</i>
Sierra Boggess and Hugh Panaro in The Phantom of the Opera (Joan Marcus)

The Phantom of the Opera

"Finally, of course, I must mention The Phantom of the Opera. After all, it's celebrating 25 years on Broadway and still going strong."