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Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh In on PRINCE OF BROADWAY- All the Reviews!


Prince of Broadway

Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway premiere of Prince of Broadway, a musical celebration that highlights the extraordinary six-decade career of director and producer Harold Prince, opens tonight, August 24, 2017, at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street).

Harold Prince is a legend in the American theatre - the acclaimed director and producer behind a long list of America's most iconic musicals and the winner of a staggering, record-breaking 21 Tony Awards. Now, he's bringing together six decades of magical moments in a new musical event, Prince of Broadway.

This thrilling night of theatre includes fully staged hits from such celebrated musicals as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Evita, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera and more, in an unforgettable tribute to an unmatched Broadway career.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: A quality of randomness is perhaps appropriate to a show that begins with the observation, "Never underestimate luck." That's Mr. Uranowitz speaking, pretending to be Mr. Prince. (All the cast members take turns pretending to be Mr. Prince, wearing black and white, oddly mod outfits, with glasses perched on their heads, a signature of their director; David Thompson's script also has them deliver unilluminating maxims on success and failure and the importance of hard work.) What follows has the feeling of a work assembled by dice roll, and I don't think Dadaism was anybody's intention. The individual numbers nearly all feature literal-minded scenery, such as a bank of candles and a wrought-iron gate for the "Phantom" sequence, and they are performed with the high earnestness of audition pieces.'

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: So what exactly is being celebrated in Prince of Broadway? The answer to that question starts becoming apparent when George and Amalia of SHE LOVES ME each sing a nervous solo anticipating their blind date. It continues when Buddy of FOLLIES angrily reacts to the indifference he receives from his wife, Sally, which he claims has driven him to cheat on her. A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC's Fredrik puts on a happy face when singing of the virtues of his young, virginal wife to his ex-lover Desirée, who follows with a ballad faking amusement at the way their relationship has turned. By the time FIDDLER ON THE ROOF's Tevye starts imagining what life would be like if he possessed a small fortune and three characters from CABARET deal in their own ways with the rise of the Nazis in their homeland, the connecting thread of Prince of Broadway becomes apparent.

Matt Windman, amNY: "Prince of Broadway," the lavish, unwieldy, mostly enjoyable revue celebrating Prince's long and unparalleled career of presenting daring new musicals (usually based on difficult subject matter and incorporating strong visual concepts), has finally opened on Broadway after many stops and starts, and I'm "sorry-grateful" to see it there.

Jeremy Gerard, Deadline: Prince of Broadway bristles with the joyful noise of familiar songs delivered by a gifted and versatile cast of nine, under the direction of Prince himself, with an assist from Susan Stroman (The Producers,Scottsboro Boys). Jason Robert Brown's high-octane overture quotes composers as disparate as Stephen Sondheim and John Kander, Leonard Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, not to mention J.R. Brown. It sets the scene for a celebration of a theater maker who still refuses to be pigeonholed as high- or middle-brow. A director who deserves the honor not only for championing many of the greatest stage artists of the late 20th century, but for making their work urgent and central to an audience lured from Times Square by movies, TV and rock arenas.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: On this cruise through Prince's greatest hits (and a few of his flops), there are as many Hal Princes as there actors on the stage, all speaking improbably in the first person, all offering bon mots ("And we had another hit!") or epigrams, pithy truisms, famous names ("Steve and I") or wry acknowledgments of the role of good fortune and hard graft in any illustrious career. As written by David Thompson, those do not amount to meaningful insight into the subject under review. And as a consequence, and despite the pleasures of hearing reprises of musical numbers like "The Worst Pies in London," "Being Alive" and "You Must Meet My Wife," the show functions mostly as a cautionary tale about the difficulty of anthologizing directors in a Broadway show.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Imagine simultaneous revivals of a dozen or so of the standout musical productions of the latter half of the 20th century. That's more or less what Prince of Broadway crams into two-and-a-half hours, in sample-size nuggets that touch on the magic while leaving you craving more. Sifting through such an embarrassment of riches, it's inevitable that certain choices and omissions appear questionable, and the nine performers that make up the tremendously versatile and hard-working ensemble are a better fit for some roles than others. But this recap of an illustrious career leaves no doubt about the validity of producer-director Harold Prince's exalted status, even if it's thin on illuminating detail.

Robert Hofler. The Wrap: The clunky segues between numbers aside, "Prince of Broadway" most resembles a Met Opera gala, where one singer after another comes out in full costume to deliver a big aria. "Prince of Broadway" goes for that same wow factor, with everybody trying to outdo each other. Unlike the greatest hits of opera, though some of these Broadway tunes have been turned into anthems that are merely loud and bombastic, and these include the title songs from "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and "The Phantom of the Opera," as well as "This Is Not Over Yet" from "Parade."

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Fine. But what does this musical have to say? Now 89, Prince has had a storied career, but we don't get that story here. Beyond his penchant for unconventional material, there's little insight into Prince's craft or his vision. It's not easy to detect the director's history in what we're seeing, since the musical numbers-greatest hits from shows including West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Company and Cabaret, plus a sprinkling of relative obscurities-feature new casts, new choreography (by codirector Susan Stroman) and new sets (by Beowulf Boritt, making budget-conscious nods to the originals). The songs wind up in an awkward space: divorced from the dramatic context that gave many of them their power, yet too tethered to their first incarnations to enjoy the interpretive mobility they might have in a straightforward concert or cabaret show.

Joe Dziemianowicz, The Daily News: In his various guises, Prince alludes to luck, success and failure, unusual projects and finally to just "do the work." It's not a deep dive into the mind of a master - more like, Shallow Hal. If you're okay with that and want to luxuriate in moments from some wonderful shows, you'll be entertained by the cast. Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Bryonha Marie Parham, Brandon Uranowitz, Kaley Ann Voorhees and Michael Xavier all get time to shine and take advantage of that to varying degrees.

Steven Suskind, Huffington Post: All this aside-and despite our thorough admiration for the career and life of the eighty-nine-year-old Prince of Broadway-the entertainment wears thin in the second act. Here we have a show which only exists by virtue of song selections from the Prince catalog, written by three dozen fellows. (While one woman-Betty Comden-is credited on the title page, there isn't a word of hers in evidence.) In such a venture, some material is likely to be included for reasons other than suitability. You could indeed do all Sondheim, all the time-but then that wouldn't be Prince of Broadway, would it?

Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast: When they are not singing, the nine performers appear as Prince himself with glancing stories and homilies from his illustrious career, glasses perched atop their foreheads. But the contents of these narrative interjections is scant at best. We learn that musicals are tough to mount, that it's surprising when critical flops turn out to be commercial successes, and vice versa too. But there is no detail of the tough times, no indiscreet back-stage talk, and no penetrating examination of life, character, motives and desires of Prince himself, who has won a record-breaking 21 Tony Awards. Prince of Broadway is not enough about the Prince of Broadway.

Sara Holdren, Vulture: Though the music soars, the show's central figure remains a bit generic, a bit out of focus. We don't really see Prince - certainly not as we got to see Sondheim, through actual personal video footage, in the 2010 Broadway revue (and similar career retrospective) Sondheim on Sondheim. Instead, we see a mostly young cast, all looking very chic in black-and-white baseball costumes by William Ivey Long, delivering a number of well-meaning truisms about luck and heart. (The book, which weirdly feels both a little too slick and a little too earnest, is by David Thompson).

Barbara Schuler, Newsday: Breaking up the musical numbers, the nine cast members - with glasses similar to Prince's perched on their heads - offer flashbacks about how he got into the biz: Begging the venerable producer-director George Abbott for a job, raising money from the crew to put on "The Pajama Game," lucky breaks like taking over "West Side Story" when another producer backed out. Musical theater buffs will eat it up; those looking for something more challenging, not so much.

Jessica Derschowitz, Entertainment Weekly: Prince himself directed the show, which employs a nimble cast of nine performers who take turns sharing anecdotes and life lessons as "Prince" and dipping into some of the hits (and flops - Merrily We Roll Along gets a number) he had a hand in. Some musicals are represented by one number, while others have multiple, the reasons for which remain unclear. Why only perform one number from Fiddler on the Roof (even if it's a robust "If I Were a Rich Man" by Chuck Cooper) and three from A Little Night Music? Or four from Cabaret? Some of the transitions are aided by those wise words and interesting stories from Prince - like how he met first Stephen Sondheim - but others aren't, transitioning from one show to the next without any context.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: 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.

Charles Isherwood, Broadway News: Certainly the more than 30 songs performed by a superb cast of nine include some of the most beloved, or accomplished, ever written for musicals. A short list of the shows directed or produced (or both) by Prince ranges from the bouncy "Damn Yankees" to the storied collaborations with Stephen Sondheim - "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music" and "Sweeney Todd" among them - as well as two Andrew Lloyd Webber megahits, "Evita" and "The Phantom of the Opera." Plus "Cabaret" and "Fiddler on the Roof." But Prince's protean ability to infuse an electric vitality into shows of such disparate styles and tones almost confounds the revue format - or rather is confounded by it. Prince's work was often celebrated for its seamlessness, the fluid interplay between dialogue, song and dance, between story and character and theme. But even the most skilled seam-sealer cannot make a revue of such diverse material into a conceptually cohesive and theatrically compelling evening.

Christopher Kelly, As greatest hits compilations go, the new Broadway revue "Prince of Broadway" is pretty much everything you could ask for: shiny, handsomely packaged, and containing all of your favorites. For two-and-a-half hours, nine tremendously gifted Broadway veterans guide us through the highlights of the career of 21-time Tony Award winner Harold Prince, the producer and director known for his work on such disparate shows as "Fiddler on the Roof," "Sweeney Todd," and "The Phantom of the Opera."

Mark Shenton, The Stage: It's inevitably rushed and bitty as it proffers short extracts from such all-time classics as Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, She Loves Me, Follies, Sweeney Todd and Evita, which Prince helped originate. Of course those shows are revived often enough - all of them currently (or recently) in London, Chichester or New York. Prince's production of The Phantom of the Opera is playing in full just three blocks away, so the extract seems entirely superfluous, however grandly West End actor Michael Xavier renders The Music of the Night.

Peter Marks, Washington Post: The Manhattan Theatre Club production, for which Susan Stroman is listed as choreographer and co-director, feels as if it were slapped together for the entertainment portion of a benefit dinner. The task of reciting the wooden commentary between songs is shared by the entire cast, each of whom reminisces as if he or she were Prince, with each sporting the eyeglasses eternally perched on the director's forehead. It's an affectionate touch, but like so much that transpires on this lackluster occasion, only minorly evocative of the great man himself.

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