FLASH FRIDAY: Have A Little Faith (Prince, That Is)
Today we salute one of Broadway best-loved leading ladies now that she is back treading the boards as Miss Hannigan in the current revival of ANNIE, the simply divine Faith Prince.
The type of amply, unmistakably apparent talent and the awe-inspiring power of sheer performative personality possessed by stalwart stage and screen actress Faith Prince is more than a mere marvel - and, in doing precisely what she does so well, there may be few better at it in all of entertainment. What once was a treasured and highly sought type - that is, the caustic, endlessly quirky musical comedy leading lady who is also capable of putting over a ballad or romantic duet, too, if required - is now a much rarer sort of role to be found in modern musical theatre, so the pickings have evidently been somewhat slimmer in recent years. Yet, those souls among us who understand what this woman can do - as anyone who saw her unforgettable, Tony Award-winning turn in GUYS & DOLLS in 1992, virtually redefining the Loesser show-stopper "Adelaide's Lament" in the process, can attest; let alone her stunning work in Jerome Robbins' BROADWAY and FALSETTOLAND before that - are left to merely marvel at what could be and what, unbelievably, has never been. For instance, why have we not been blessed with a Faith Prince MAME or HELLO, DOLLY on the Great White Way? Is anyone more suited to those roles than Faith? Following her Tony Award-winning work in GUYS & DOLLS, Faith next contributed more stupendous performances byway of the 1996 revival of THE KING & I and Martin Short starrer LITTLE ME (another revival) before headlining another classic Golden Age musical revival of her own, BELLS ARE RINGING, the very same year as leading a contemporary comedy classic of a play, NOISES OFF (both in 2001).
Golden Age musical comedy clearly fits Faith Prince like a glove and she can mine the wholly unique tone and style of that particular musical comedy leading lady aura of yore like few - perhaps no - others working in theatre today. Brass? You got it. Sass? In spades. Heart? Oh, yeah - that, too. And, what about soul? Her name is Faith!
While GUYS & DOLLS may be her finest career achievement thus far, the short-running new musical A CATERED AFFAIR in 2008 gave Prince the opportunity to create an original role in the premiere of a piece (as did A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE Off-Broadway in 2002) and those privileged enough to have witnessed her in the intimate, sentimental show were surely swooning by the final curtain, awakened to her impressive and finely honed dramatic skills, as well - and, after all, it was an exceptional musical showcase for a true red, white and blue Broadway diva, no matter the length of the run. Since then, Prince has appeared in replacement roles in the Broadway company of THE LITTLE MERMAID as well as in Billy Elliot on tour, though Miss Hannigan in the current Broadway revival of ANNIE offers her a prime chance to show us all once again why Faith Prince is among Broadway's very best and why this invaluable Broadway star should be seen far more often on the Great White Way - in starring roles.
Hello, Jerry (Herman, that is; MAME and DOLLY's songwriter)?! It's today! Have a little Faith!
Additionally, check out my 2011 InDepth InterView with Faith Prince in which we discuss many of her past roles as well as her desire to essay the great Jerry Herman leading lady roles, as well, available here.
She's Going Back
So, now, let's look at some highlights from the unique, absorbing and arresting musical comedy career of Faith Prince now that she is back on Broadway - right where she belongs - in ANNIE.
First up, see Faith Prince stop the show cold - emphasis on cold - with "Adelaide's Lament" from GUYS & DOLLS at the starry MY FAVORITE BROADWAY: THE LEADING LADIES gala concert event in 1999.
Next, Nathan Lane and Faith Prince animatedly and winningly perform "Sue Me" from GUYS & DOLLS on THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW.
After that, sample Faith Prince in BELLS ARE RINGING with this sweet Tony Awards performance of "I'm Going Back" from 2001.
Now, Faith Prince joins with Marin Mazzie and John Barrowman for a rousing and remarkably idiosyncratic "Before The Parade Passes By" from HELLO, DOLLY!
Lastly, witness Faith Prince in THE LITTLE MERMAID - tentacles included - with the dastardly Ursula anthem "Poor Unfortunate Souls".
As a special bonus, check out this SOUND OFF World Premiere Exclusive clip of Faith Prince joining Sharon Lawrence and Brooke Elliot for a performance of "Lean On Me" on Lifetime's DROP DEAD DIVA, available here.
So, what exactly is it about the artistry and always apparent ease with which Faith Prince entertains that makes her such a Broadway treasure? Furthermore, what is your favorite performance of hers in her accomplished and varied career thus far? Let's hope that after her run in ANNIE concludes that we will see Faith back on Broadway very soon - hopefully in HELLO, DOLLY! or MAME. Until then, keep the faith!
Photo Credits: Joan Marcus