|PRINCE OF BROADWAY|
It has almost as many memorable numbers as its namesake has Tony Awards. Yet the brisk and entertaining Prince of Broadway is a more of a light summer frolic than a substantially hearty show. This career retrospective of Harold Prince — the recipient of 21 Tony Awards over a producing and directing career that spans more than six decades — showcases 36 songs from 17 musicals that Prince was involved in, some of which are the genre’s greatest.
Prince and codirector-choreographer Susan Stroman meticulously re-create numbers from such shows as Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd and The Phantom of the Opera — the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, playing just three blocks away. But despite a talented nine-person ensemble, Prince of Broadway plays like a museum piece for much of its two-and-a-half-hour running time.
It’s lovely to be reminded of the genius of Stephen Sondheim’s songs in medleys from shows like Company, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd, and to see numbers from lesser-known shows like It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman. But out of context they lose their impact.
Yes, David Thompson’s book attempts to string everything together with first-person narration delivered by cast members that chart Prince’s early days in the employ of Broadway impresario George Abbott, his introduction to Sondheim and the songwriting team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, his later work with Andrew Lloyd Webber and more. But it’s all scattershot. Songs aren’t presented in chronological order, by composer or even theme, though numbers from Parade and Kiss of the Spider Woman are staged linked because of their prison settings.
Still, it’s a treat to see a great cast of Broadway musical veterans and new faces take on classics like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Cabaret,” “Tonight” and “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.” Particularly memorable are Brandon Uranowitz, whose roles include the Emcee in Cabaret; Emily Skinner singing Sondheim’s delicate “Send in the Clowns” and later belting out “Ladies Who Lunch”; and Tony Yazbeck switching from the young lead in West Side Story to the wrongly convicted Leo Frank in Parade and tapping this way through “The Right Girl” from Follies..
Prince of Broadway may be less than the sum of its parts, but it’s a spirited trip through 20th century musical theater, and one with wide appeal. In the ladies’ room line at intermission, a woman who had seen the original 1964 production of Fiddler and a teenager who was experiencing many of these shows for the first time bonded over their mutual enjoyment of the production. Like its creator’s expansive oeuvre, Prince of Broadway’s pleasures run the gamut.
By Diane Snyder
Visit the Site
Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Bryonha Marie Parham, Emily Skinner, Brandon Uranowitz, Kaley Ann Voorhees, Michael Xavier, Tony Yazbeck, Karen Ziemba
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 8/3/2017
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street
New York, NY 10036