Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Emily Skinner in a scene from ‘Follies.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

Print Friendly

 

PRINCE OF BROADWAY
Written by David Thompson
New Songs, Arrangements, Orchestration & Music Supervision by Robert Jason Brown
Co-Directed & Choreographed by Susan Stroman
Directed by Hal Prince
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street
(212) 239-6200, www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com

 

By David NouNou

Any theatergoer knows that Harold S. Prince is a world-renowned producer/director and has had his hand in theatrical productions for almost 65 years. He has worked with the greatest of creative talents from Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Kander & Ebb to Andrew Lloyd Webber; from Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse to Susan Stroman, and the actors he’s brought to the stage are endless: Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Cook, Elaine Stritch, Zero Mostel, Joel Grey, Mandy Patinkin, Michael Crawford, and on and on.

However, trying to musicalize a producer/director’s career is much more difficult to present on stage than, let’s say, the musicals Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, based on recreating Jerome Robbins’ choreography from On The Town, West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof or Fosse, based on Bob Fosse’s choreography for Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity and Pippin. Those are tangible works of artists recreating their creations. Dances are intrinsically more satisfying than actors trotting on stage, singing songs from a particular producer’s shows.

The nine actors consisting of Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Bryonha Marie Parham, Emily Skinner, Brandon Uranowitz, Kaley Ann Voorhees, Michael Xavier, Tony Yasbeck and Karen Ziemba succeed to various degrees. They all come out on stage as Hal Prince at various times, with his signature glasses on their forehead, narrating his career. Honestly, I would have preferred having Mr. Prince narrate his own life, introducing his own productions at various stages in his career projected on a screen. This would have been more productive; it would have given us an introduction to the man himself, been less lame and more effective.

The major problem here is how do you connect all these phenomenal shows? Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Fiddler On the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera as well as A Family Affair, Flora the Red Menace, A Doll’s Life, Zorba, Roza, Merrily We Roll Along (mostly hits and a fair number of flops)? It’s very difficult to chose the songs and scenes from all these shows to fit cohesively in an entertaining manner. Some are extremely entertaining standing alone, as the scenes from West Side Story, Cabaret and Company. Some are visually entertaining like Follies and Phantom of the Opera, The songs from She Loves Me, It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman, Parade, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Sweeney Todd, although good, make no sense. What helps make the scenes work better is mostly due to set designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer William Ivey Long, and lighting designer Howell Binkley. They try to capture the essences of the original productions and that helps the visualization process immensely. They attempt to recapture that particular moment of each show and it does envelop us for the most part.

Two standout performers for me were Tony Yazbeck for his great phraseology of the songs from West Side Story and “The Right Girl” from Follies. His tap dancing in that song is phenomenal. The other standout is Chuck Cooper. His rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler is better than what I’ve seen in recent years. He also does a superb “Ol’ Man River” from Showboat. Both these men get better and better with each successive show.

It’s great to see Brandon Uranowitz’s career blossoming. His “Willkommen” from Cabaret was chilling, and teaming up with the wonderful Karen Ziemba in “If You Could See Her ” and her solo “So What” is memorable. A treat to see Emily Skinner back on Broadway doing “Ladies Who Lunch” from Company and “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music.

All in all, it is an entertaining, if not wholly satisfying or fulfilling evening. If you were fortunate enough to have seen some of the original versions, most of the scenes will evoke a fond memory or at least give you a taste of the past experience.

 

Edited by Scott Harrah
Published August 27, 2017
Reviewed at August 26, 2017 press performance.

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Michael Xavier & cast perform a number from ‘Company.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Brandon Uranowitz sings a song from ‘Cabaret.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Janet Dacal in ‘Evita’ scene. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Bryonha Marie Parham & Kaley Ann Voorhees sing a classic from ‘Showboat.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Tony Yazbeck performs a number from ‘Follies.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Tony Yazbeck & Kaley Ann Voorhees perform a scene from ‘West Side Story.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

Prince of Broadway

‘PRINCE OF BROADWAY’: Chuck Cooper performs a classic song from ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Photo: Matthew Murphy

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.