Harold Prince, Giant In American Theatre, Dead At 91

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Sad news: Harold Prince, legendary producer and director, has died. He was 91. Prince died Wednesday morning after a brief illness in Reykjavik, Iceland,.

Prince was announced to stage the premiere of “The Band’s Visit” at Hartford Stage for the 2014-15 season . But that production never happened and premiered and the show premiered off-Broadway, directed by David Cromer.

I’ve interviewed Prince several times over the years. One of my favorites was the following piece that I wrote in 2006 for The Hartford Courant.


.The chandelier isn't the only thing that looms large as "The Phantom of the Opera" becomes the longest-running show in Broadway history.

It's the numbers.

"Phantom" surpasses "Cats" Jan. 9 in its 7,486 performances over 18 years, grossing nearly $600 million and attracting 11 million to the Majestic Theatre, where it has been playing since it opened Jan. 26, 1988.

Not enough numbers?

The show has had the greatest advance sale of its time -- $18 million. Highlights of the original cast recording is the fourth longest-running charted pop album of all time, having spent 331 weeks (over six years) on the Billboard charts.


Worldwide, the musical has grossed $3.2 billion, attracting more than 80 million fans, making "Phantom" the most successful entertainment venture ever, surpassing such other phenoms as "Titanic," "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars."

"I hate all the talk about numbers," says Harold Prince, who directed Andrew Lloyd Webber's show in London in 1986 and then on Broadway, where it followed such British imports as Lloyd Webber's "Cats" (1982) and "Les Miserables" (1987). All three megashows -- "Les Miserables" is the third longest-running Broadway show -- had Cameron Mackintosh as a producer.

When did Prince become aware of the "Phantom" phenomenon?

"When a smart press agent put the two 'PHs' together," says Prince, laughing at the alliteration. "Listen, anybody who says they know [a show is going to be a phenomenon] is not telling you the truth. You might know its effect on an audience in previews. But what you can't know is what the word-of-mouth will be until it is running and sometimes you don't know that immediately. You know the show got off to a good start. That's happened a lot. Some of the shows get off to an awfully good start and then they run out of their audience."