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January 30: Two Giants of Broadway

Lawrence Bush
January 30, 2017
Two giants of Broadway share this date in 1928 as birthdays: producer and director Harold (Hal) Prince, who has won a record 21 Tony Awards (eight for directing) for such shows as The Pajama Game, Cabaret, Pacific Overtures, Company, Damn Yankees, Fiddler on the Roof, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, and numerous others; and Mitch Leigh (Irwin Mitchnick), best known as the composer for Man of La Mancha, for which he won a Tony in 1965. Leigh also endowed a chair in jazz at the Yale School of Music. He died at 86 in 2014. Prince, winner of the National Medal of Arts in 2000, has enjoyed numerous collaborations with Stephen Sondheim (at left in photo at the top) as well as with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, and other luminaries of the Broadway musical. "When I started producing [in the 1950s], the cost of a musical was $250,000," he told Bloomberg News last August. "That very same musical today will cost you well over $10 million, and the people you get the money from are a different profile. I raised all my money from dressers and stagehands. Now you have to have wealthy people, and you have to know how to get wealthy people." To see excerpts from "Prince of Broadway," Prince's recent tribute show, look below. "The idea is to work and to experiment. Some things will be creatively successful, some things will succeed at the box office, and some things will only -- which is the biggest only -- teach you things that see the future. And they're probably as valuable as any of your successes." --Harold Prince

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.