×

Broadway Review: Harold Prince Revue ‘Prince of Broadway’

With:
Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Bryonha Marie Parham, Emily Skinner, Brandon Uranowitz, Kaley Ann Voorhees, Michael Xavier, Tony Yazbeck, Karen Ziemba.

The best 16 shows on Broadway are all playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater in “Prince of Broadway,” a sumptuous revue celebrating the 60-plus-years of legendary director-producer Harold Prince’s fabulous career. Watching the hits flash by, like diamonds on a necklace, is sure to make you cry – with tears of joy if you saw that particular show, and tears of regret if you missed it.

The project was the brainchild of the composer-playwright Jason Robert Brown, who worked with Prince in 1998 on “Parade.” Getting it produced on Broadway was a seven-year effort that got a leg up when it played Japan in 2015. But now that the show is finally here, it seems clear that Broadway is where it came from, and Broadway is where it belongs.

The talent that went into this show is out of this world. Dazzling sets by Beowulf Boritt and breathtaking costumes by William Ivey Long pay proper homage to the original designers. (Look! That’s original set designer Boris Aronson’s name etched into the set for “Follies” — as if we could ever forget.) Jon Weston extends his respects to the original sound designers (how about those spine-chilling opening chords of “Phantom”?) and Howell Binkley is replicating lighting designs from some of the shows he worked on originally. Even Paul Huntley could consult the original hair and wig sketches from the half-dozen of Prince’s shows that he worked on, including the memorable golden helmet of the title character of “Evita.”

In addition to co-directing the show with Prince (with whom she worked on the Tony-winning 1994 revival of “Show Boat”), Susan Stroman has created more than a dozen distinct choreographic profiles to suit each musical.  The range of styles is itself impressive, from the adorable shimmy-and-shake that Chuck Cooper playfully executes for Tevye’s “If I Were a Rich Man,” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” to the intricate staging of three songs from “Follies” (Prince’s personal favorite among all his shows), performed by the entire cast.

Popular on Variety

Unbeatable as an ensemble, cast members also get their individual moments to soar: Tony Yazbeck’s amazing dance solo to “The Right Girl” from “Follies”; Karen Ziemba’s hair-raising version of Fraulein Schneider’s bitter “So What?” from “Cabaret”; Emily Skinner’s scalding “Ladies Who Lunch,” from “Company”; Kaley Ann Voorhees, transcendent as Maria in “West Side Story”; Michael Xavier sinking his teeth into “The Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera”; Janet Dacal’s dramatic “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from “Evita”; Bryonha Marie Parham’s Sally Bowles, clawing her way through the title song from “Cabaret”; Brandon Uranowitz’s creepy Emcee from the same show; and Chuck Cooper’s rumbling “Ol’ Man River” from “Show Boat.”

Although it must have been hard to choose favorites for this show (nothing from “LoveMusik”?), the scope of Prince’s career is smartly represented by the selections and their respectful treatment. There are none of those hateful medleys that make you feel deprived; many shows are represented by two and even three fully staged songs. “Cabaret” has four selections that, taken together, musically summarize the show. You may wish “Prince of Broadway” were twice as long, but you won’t go away hungry.

Prince contributed a Director’s Note in the program that refers to what he calls his amazing “luck” in beginning his theatrical career at a golden moment in the mid-1950s, when the great director-producer George Abbott was still around to learn from (in Prince’s first show, “The Pajama Game”) and the young Stephen Sondheim was just starting out (in “West Side Story”). The list of his creative collaborators is a roll call of legends: Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Hugh Wheeler, Joseph Stein, Sheldon Harnick, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the beloved team of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Not to mention the choreographers and designers who came up with him in the ranks.

“Sometimes, I think I got in just under the wire, when the theater was central to the entertainment industry,” Prince writes, “and there was an atmosphere of ease, camaraderie and community.”  And when the cost of doing “an elegant Broadway musical” was $250,000, he adds. Ever the realist.

Broadway Review: Harold Prince Revue 'Prince of Broadway'

Samuel J. Friedman Theater; 615 seats; $179 top. Opens Aug. 24. Reviewed Aug. 17. Running time: TWO HOURS, 30 MIN.

Production: A Manhattan Theater Club presentation, by special arrangement with Gorgeous Entertainment, of a revue in one act with book by David Thompson, new songs, arrangements, orchestration and music supervision by Jason Robert Brown.

Creative: Directed by Harold Prince. Co-direction & choreography, Susan Stroman; Sets & production design, Beowulf Boritt; costumes, William Ivey Long; lighting, Howell Binkley; sound, Jon Weston; hair & wigs, Paul Huntley; make-up, Angelina Avallone; production stage manager, Gregory T. Livoti.

Cast: Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Bryonha Marie Parham, Emily Skinner, Brandon Uranowitz, Kaley Ann Voorhees, Michael Xavier, Tony Yazbeck, Karen Ziemba.

More Legit

  • Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant,

    Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant, Dies at 73

    Gregg Smith, a dancer, casting director and assistant choreographer who had a long association with director Kenny Ortega, has died. He was 73. Smith died on Jan. 1. The industry veteran worked as a performer in the national touring company of the musical “Hair” and in a Los Angeles production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He [...]

  • Frozen review musical

    Warmth and Humor Pervade Pantages Production of 'Frozen' the Musical

    In 2013, Disney’s “Frozen” hit screens like a 100 mile-per-hour snowball, sparking a pop cultural phenomenon in which little girls and boys pranced about dressed in Anna and Elsa and Olaf costumes while belting aloud “Let It Go,” Elsa’s feminist anthemic response to ice powers rendering her a societal outcast. The animated movie won two [...]

  • My Name Is Lucy Barton review

    'My Name is Lucy Barton': Theater Review

    Laura Linney is in love. Just watch the radiant expression on her face as she wraps her arms around the character of Lucy Barton, a role she played in two separate engagements at the Bridge Theater in London, and is now reprising on Broadway in “My Name is Lucy Barton.” The feeling is obviously mutual, [...]

  • 'Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal' to

    'Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal' to Air Weekly, Syndicate Nationally (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal” will become nationally syndicated, marking a first for a program about the Great White Way. Beginning in fall 2020, the monthly show will increase frequency to air weekly. The show is hosted and executive-produced by 12-time Emmy Award winner Tamsen Fadal, a news anchor at WPIX, the channel that initially [...]

  • Laura Linney My Name Is Lucy

    Listen: What Laura Linney Learns From Bad Shows

    For Laura Linney, every stage experience is a learning experience. “Even the bad ones!” she cheerfully declared on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “Even the ones that are really bad, and I’ve been really bad in some things,” continued the Emmy winner, currently back on Broadway [...]

  • 'Betrayal' Star Zawe Ashton Signs With

    'Betrayal' Star Zawe Ashton Signs With CAA (EXCLUSIVE)

    Zawe Ashton has signed with CAA, Variety has learned. Most recently seen on Broadway in the hit revival of Harold Pinter’s “Betryal,” Ashton is the definition of a multi-hyphenate. In addition to being an in-demand actress, Ashton is a director, playwright and author. While earning critical raves for “Betrayal,” Ashton made her debut as a [...]

  • Michael Feinstein Kristin Chenoweth Sutton Foster

    Jerry Herman Memorial Set for Feb. 3 at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

    A memorial service for Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Michael Feinstein is producing the tribute, which will feature performances from a number of notable legit stars, including Kristin Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara, Bernadette Peters and Betty Buckley. Angela [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content