The Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA announced November 5 it will honor Broadway producer and director Harold “Hal” Prince — winner of an unprecedented 21 Tony Awards® — with the Signature’s fourth Stephen Sondheim Award.
Prince directed the original production of “Cabaret”, and his collaborations with Sondheim include “Company”, “Follies”, “A Little Night Music”, and “Sweeney Todd”.
Stephen Sondheim said, “After nine major collaborations over a period of 55 years and a friendship that is even longer, it seems somewhat redundant, not to say bizarre, that I should be giving an award in my name to Harold Prince. But any award that acknowledges Hal’s skills, inventions, and generosity is an award worth giving. His achievements range well beyond his contributions as a director and a producer.”
Signature Theatre’s artistic director Eric Schaeffer said in an announcement, “After presenting the Sondheim Award to three amazing women of the American theatre – Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, and Patti LuPone – we felt it was time to celebrate the ‘Prince of Broadway’… this giant of the American musical … for all of his contributions to the American theatre and for being an inspiration to us all.”
Over the last half-century, Hal Prince has become one of the most well-known and influential theatrical producers and directors in Broadway history. Prince has won 21 Tonys: eight as a director, ten more as a producer, and an additional three special awards.
Born in 1928 in New York City, Prince attended the University of Pennsylvania and served in the US Army for two years before beginning a career in professional theatre.
He got his start under producer and director George Abbot, with whom he co-produced “The Pajama Game”, the 1955 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical. Prince began directing in 1962, and in 1966 he directed “Cabaret” in its original Broadway run.
Prince teamed up with Sondheim in 1970, after previously working together on “West Side Story”. Their productions together in the following years – “Company” in 1970, “Follies” in 1971, “A Little Night Music” in 1973, “Pacific Overtures” in 1976, “Sweeney Todd” in 1979, and “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1981 – cemented their friendship and won both much acclaim.
Prince’s current project, “Prince of Broadway”, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. Directed by Prince with co-direction and choreography by Tony- winner Susan Stroman, the new musical celebrates six decades of the shows that earned Prince his long-running acclaim, with music from Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Kander & Ebb, among others.
Prince serves as president of the National Institute for Musical Theatre. In 2000 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, and in 2006 he received a special Tony Award® for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
The Sondheim award will be presented at the Embassy of Italy at a black-tie gala on April 22 to benefit Signature’s artistic, education, and community programs of Signature.
Signature has its own Tony Award — the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony for Regional Excellence.