In the world of musical theater, few names command as much respect as that of Hal Prince. The legendary director and producer is responsible for some of the most memorable Broadway productions of the last century, including “The Phantom of the Opera,” “West Side Story,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Now, Maryland Public Television is set to celebrate Prince’s life and legacy with a special television event that promises to be a treat for theater lovers everywhere. The production, which is in collaboration with Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra and Studio Dans, features artists from the YAAOrchestra, YAACompany, and YAAjunior. (The last collaboration between MPT and YAA, “The Songs of Tim Rice” in 2017, won a Regional Emmy.)
Young Artists of America (YAA) presented the world premiere of “Hal Prince’s Broadway” at the Music Center at Strathmore for one night only. The show—conceived and curated by Rolando Sanz, book and live performance direction by Carole Graham Lehan, and choreographed by Dana Keane and Alexandra Blanch—celebrates the life and legacy of one of Broadway’s true legends.
At a recent taping of the the live show in Maryland Public Television’s large studio in Owings Mills, we watched the 180 talented teens sing and dance to live music, provided by the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, sensitively conducted by Kristofer Sanz who led these young musicians in a heart-pounding overture of Hal Prince favorites. All this plus a standout performance of Broadway performer, YAA alum, Alex Stone, in “Being Alive,” and Sebastian Gervase caught our attention with his snappy dancing in “Willkommen” from “Cabaret.” I loved the tinny sounds from the horns that put us in a sleazy, German bar.
Some people at MPT should be noted. Troy Mosley is the producer of the televised show and Bill Clarke is the director. It was fun watching the crew film the kids in action, some using a huge boom to hold the camera in place, ready to focus in on the dancing or singing or the musicians.
As the director of the groundbreaking musical, ”Cabaret,” Prince redefined the musical theater genre by blending music and drama in a way that was both innovative and emotionally powerful. Carole Graham Lehan’s creative touches are authentic and highly emotional. With her special feeling for Hal Prince’s legacy, she inspires fledgling performers to shine on stage. The YAA performers bring their unique energy and talent to the tribute, showcasing some of Prince’s most memorable works from “West Side Story” to “Fiddler on the Roof.” These kids pay tribute to the iconic songs and scenes that have captivated audiences for generations. Under the guidance of Lehan, they’ll also get an inside look at how Prince approached each new project, learning valuable lessons about the creative process.
For the YAA performers, this tribute is an opportunity to be part of something truly special. Under the guidance of Lehan, they’ll learn from some of the most talented performers in the industry, gaining invaluable experience an inspiration along the way. For those watching at home, it’s a chance to see the future of Broadway in action, as these talented young performers pay tribute to one of its greatest pioneers.
For Lehan, the tribute is a labor of love. As a veteran of the theater world, she has worked on dozens of professional productions and has a deep appreciation for the way Hal Prince revolutionized the art form. Through her work with the YAA performers, she hopes to inspire a new generation of theater lovers to appreciate Prince’s contributions to the industry.
Overall, the upcoming Hal Prince tribute promises to be a must-see event for anyone who loves musical theater. With its insightful interviews, rare footage, and unforgettable performances, it’s a celebration of one of Broadway’s true giants.
In short, the upcoming fall airing of “Hal Prince’s Broadway” promises to be an unforgettable event, showcasing the best of Broadway past, present, and future. With the YAA performers bringing their unique talent to the mix, and under the direction of Carole Graham Lehan, it’s a celebration of the power of theater to inspire and transform. So tune in to Maryland Public Television and get ready to be swept away by the magic of Hal Prince and the next generation of Broadway stars. PBS broadcast date TBD.
Running time of televised production, edited from “Hal Prince’s Broadway,” is one hour, with 45 minutes of YAA performances.
“Hal Prince’s Broadway” was a one-night only performance on April 1, 2023 at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, MD 20852. For more information on the Young Artists of America, visit YAA.org.