Harold Prince, Broadway impresario and Penn and WXPN alum passes

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Harold Prince | screenshot from PBS documentary “Harold Prince: The Director’s Life”

Harold Prince, the legendary Broadway producer, director, and multiple Tony award winner, passed away last Wednesday, July 31 in Iceland. He was 91 years old. Prince’s work included some of the most iconic Broadway productions from the 60s and 70s, and even into the 80s, including West Side Story, Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Evita, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Evita, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Known to many as “Hal,” Prince’s legacy and impact on Broadway is unparalleled. The New York Times wrote that he had a “singularly significant role in shaping the Broadway musical during the second half of the 20th century.”

Born in Manhattan in 1928, Prince attended University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1948. According to the Times, Prince was active in the Penn Players, and as a student managed WXPN as the Program Director. During XPN’s earliest days, from its first broadcast in November 1945, the station only broadcasted a few hours each week. According to the University of Pennsylvania archives:

Early programming included live coverage of sporting events (including some “away” meets); campus news; classical music shows; live music; and dramatic presentations. These latter included works adapted from the stage, as well as a daily soap opera written by Prince.

Prince won 21 Tony Awards during his 70 plus year career in Broadway, and has been a supportive alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania. With royalties from Cabaret he created an experimental black box theater space in the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Penn’s campus called the Harold Prince Theatre. Additionally, a second theatre was named in his honor at Broad and Chestnut Streets in 1999.

Now through August 14th, PBS is making available a documentary about his life and work, Great Performances – Harold Prince: The Director’s Life. The retrospective celebrates Prince’s career.

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