Harold Prince (1928-) is an American director and producer, primarily of musicals, but also of plays, operas and, occasionally, films. His Broadway career, which began in the 1950s and continues to the present day, has earned him 21 Tony Awards, more than any other individual. The Harold Prince papers (1954-1999) consist of administrative files and production files documenting his professional life as a director and producer, and a small amount of personal papers. Administrative files illustrate the day-to-day operations of Prince's production office. Production files contain detailed information on virtually all of Prince's shows from The Pajama Game (1954) to Parade (1999). Materials include business records, subject files, ledgers, contracts, professional and personal correspondence, scripts and drafts, photographs, programs, publicity materials, awards, costume sketches, set designs, lighting plots, and scrapbooks.
Biographical/historical: Harold Prince is an American director and producer, primarily of musicals, but also of plays, operas and, occasionally, films. His Broadway career, which began in the 1950s and continues to the present day, has earned him 21 Tony Awards to date, more than any other individual.
Harold Prince was born in New York City on January 28th, 1928 to an upper-middle class family. As a child he regularly attended the theater. At age 16, he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania, where he pursued a standard liberal arts curriculum and read and wrote plays in his spare time. He graduated at age 19 and returned to New York, where he came to the notice of the legendary musical comedy director/producer George Abbott. Prince submitted a play to Abbott's office and, at age 20, found himself working there as a general assistant and later as Production Stage Manager. During his early years with Abbott, he made valuable connections with Robert Griffith, who would later become his producing partner, and Ruth Mitchell, who would be his lifetime assistant and production supervisor.
After spending two years in the army, stationed in Germany, Prince returned to the Abbott office to work on the original production of Wonderful Town (1953) and to launch his career, with Robert Griffith, as a producer, under Abbott's patronage. In their first project, The Pajama Game, (1954) Griffith and Prince scored a huge success and introduced to Broadway a new song-writing team, Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and a new choreographer, Bob Fosse. Over the course of the next several years, Griffith and Prince, sometimes with Frederick Brisson, produced such shows as Damn Yankees, (1955) New Girl in Town, (1957) West Side Story, (1957) Fiorello, (1959) Tenderloin, (1960) and A Call On Kuprin (1961).
Soon after the death of Robert Griffith in 1961, Prince moved on to directing when he was called to Philadelphia to fix A Family Affair (1962) during its out of town tryout. For the next few years he continued to produce shows, often directed by Abbot, which would establish his relationships with some of the principal collaborators of his career, such as Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and John Kander and Fred Ebb. During this period Prince also directed such productions as She Loves Me (1963) Baker Street, (1965) and It's A Bird… It's A Plane…It's Superman (1966). After producing the critical and commercial megahit, Fiddler on the Roof (1964), success as a serious director came with Kander and Ebb's Cabaret (1966). This show has been heralded as a landmark in the history of musical theater, paving the way for the new generation of thought-provoking, serious musicals, with which Prince's named would be constantly associated.
Starting in 1970, Prince embarked on a collaboration with Sondheim that produced a series of ground-breaking musicals covering a wide range of subjects and styles, which have subsequently reached legendary status, Company, (1970) with a book by George Furth; Follies, (1971) with a book by James Goldman and which Prince co-directed with renowned choreographer, Michael Bennett; A Little Night Music (1973) with a book by Hugh Wheeler; Pacific Overtures (1976) with a book by John Weidman; Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, (1979) with a book by Wheeler; and Merrily We Roll Along (1981) with a book by Furth. During this period of intense collaboration with Sondheim, Prince also directed other original musicals, such as Cy Coleman and Betty Comden and Adolph Green's On the Twentieth Century (1978) and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita (1979) as well as revivals of Leonard Bernstein's Candide, (1974) and straight plays, such as Frederich Dürrenmatt's The Visit (1973).
During the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, Prince re-united with some former collaborators and formed ties with many new ones. He directed two shows with scores by composer Larry Grossman, A Doll's Life, (1982) with book and lyrics by Comden and Green and Grind (1985), with lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh and book by Fay Kanin. Other original musicals Prince directed include Gilbert Becaud and Julian More's Roza, (1987) Andrew Lloyds Webber's blockbuster, The Phantom Of the Opera, (1988) Kander and Ebb's Kiss Of The Spider Woman (1993) and Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry's Parade (1998). Prince also directed a major revival of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat in 1994. In 2003 Prince directed Sondheim and Weidman's Bounce which was produced in Chicago and Washington D.C. In 2007 he directed the Broadway production, Lovemusik, a musical biography of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya. Paradise Found opened in London in May 2010.
In addition to musicals and plays, Prince has also directed operas and two feature films, and appeared in many documentaries and tributes. In 1974 he published an autobiography, Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre.
Prince married Judy Chaplin, the daughter of composer Saul Chaplin, in 1962. They have two children, director Daisy Prince and conductor Charlie Prince.
Content: The Harold Prince papers (1954-1999) consist of administrative files and production files documenting his professional life as a director and producer, and a small amount of personal papers. Administrative files illustrate the day-to-day operations of Prince's production office. Production files contain detailed information on virtually all of Prince's shows from The Pajama Game (1954) to Parade (1999).
The administrative files consist of general correspondence and subject files documenting the interactions of the Prince office with theatre companies, agents, writers, actors and directors and general business not pertaining to specific productions. These materials cover all aspects of how a multi-million dollar production company started out: what organizations and individuals they corresponded with, how they handled contractual negotiations, investments, profits and losses and which records they considered important enough to retain. The files cover the years he was in partnership with Robert Griffith, from 1955-1961, and the years after Griffith's death.
The production files most often concern the business rather than the artistic aspects of productions, although some of these files deal with the creative process of directing and producing a musical. Types of materials include scripts, scrapbooks of correspondence, programs and publicity materials., photographs; stage manager's calendars, cue logs, and set and costume designs; financial records, bills, payrolls and royalty statements; production and casting notes, headshots and resumes; business correspondence; contracts and legal negotiations with the Actors' and Musicians' unions; publicity materials including clippings, reviews and press releases.
Additional files document Prince's involvement in an administrative and/or artistic capacity with: the National Opera Institute (later known as the National Institute for Music Theatre) and the Phoenix Theatre. Materials include correspondence, financial records, internship applications, clippings, reports on trustees meetings and publicity materials.
Personal files include drafts, galleys, correspondence and publicity materials pertaining to Prince's autobiography, Contradictions; Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre, as well as personal correspondence, photographs, and other personal ephemera.