After several years of press releases, rumors and anticipation, the last thing you expect from a retrospective anthology featuring key moments in the work of an iconic Director of Broadway musicals, is that the overall impression is one of being charming. Yet that’s exactly what Prince of Broadway is.
In part, of course, this has to do with the current financial climate, and the difficulty involved in getting anything on its feet. But also, it reflects the desire of the creative team, conscious or tacit, and probably conscious, to carve out the territory and an identity for the show that is quite different from its predecessor anthology, Jerome Robbins Broadway. Rather than present a huge cast and ensemble to replicate great moments of yore, exactly or almost exactly as they debuted, this overview of Hal Prince’s work features only nine, count ‘em, nine, of Broadway’s current A+ players, delivering fresh spins on the old material, in something very akin to a black box setting (with isolated, particularized wagons moving on and off), absolutely suggesting each original staging but never in slavish imitation. It should be noted that the earlier selections of the evening, which progresses chronologically, reference several of the shows for which Prince was only producer and not director, but that’s appropriate to the career.