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—the premiere of the documentary “Hal Prince’s Broadway.” It promises to be a treat for theater lovers everywhere.
Young Artists of America (YAA) presented the world premiere of “Hal Prince’s Broadway” at the Music Center at Strathmore for one night only on April 1, 2023. The show—conceived and curated by Rolando Sanz, book and live performance direction by Carole Graham Lehan, and choreographed by Dana Keane and Alexandra Blanche—celebrates the life and legacy of one of Broadway’s true legends. We watched over 180 talented teens sing and dance to live music provided by YAA’s own orchestra in collaboration with the MCYO Kamerata.
Conductor Kristofer Sanz led these young musicians in a heart-pounding overture of Hal Prince favorites. Add to that a standout performance by YAA alum, Alex Stone who just came off a national tour of “Fiddler on the Roof.” The teen sang a rousing rendition of “Being Alive ” from “Company.” Sebastian Gervase caught our attention with his snappy dancing in “Willkommen” from “Cabaret.” I loved the tinny sounds from the horns that transported us to a sleazy German bar.
The documentary was taped at Maryland Public Television’s newly named Irene and Edward H. Kaplan Production Studio. Some folks at MPT should be noted. Troy Mosley is the producer of the documentary and William 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, singing, or the musicians seated in the center of the large airy studio.
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. Lehan’s creative touches are authentic and spirited.
With her special feeling for Hal Prince’s legacy, Lehan 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. Under the guidance of Lehan, they also get an inside look at how Prince approached each new project, learning valuable lessons about the creative process.
For the YAA performers, this is an opportunity to be part of something truly special. 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.
Of course, no tribute to Hal Prince would be complete without a celebration of his most beloved works. From “The Pajama Game” (Prince was assistant director) to the ground-breaking collaborations with Stephen Sondheim, the YAA troupe showcase some of the most iconic songs and scenes from these timeless productions.
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 and to appreciate Prince’s contributions to the industry.
The upcoming October airing of “Hal Prince’s Broadway” promises to be an unforgettable event, showcasing the best of Broadway past, present, and future. With its insightful interviews, rare footage, and unforgettable performances, it’s a celebration of one of Broadway’s true giants. With the YAA performers bringing their unique talent to the mix and under Lehan’s direction, 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.
The 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 April 1, 2023 at the YAA home-based Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda, MD 20852. The documentary can be seen on MPT channels Saturday, October 14 at 7 p.m. and repeats on Sunday, October 15, 2023 at 1 p.m. The show will then be available to stream on the free PBS app. For more information, visit YAA.org.