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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I REMEMBER

In recent headlines: An Evening with Hal Prince set for September 15. Seeing this reminded me of the dream I once had as a kid to work with Hal Prince. It all started with my obsession with the musical, Annie.

Growing up, I was the biggest fan of Annie -- in my usual way, I became obsessed with everything that the show was. I wore a red dress with black patent leather shoes, had the orange wig and belted out every Annie song to anyone who would listen (and even to those who wouldn't). In addition, I also had 2-3 Annie dolls, a plush Sandy (the dog), sheet music, an official program and went through a good 4 or so cassette tapes (until the show came out on CD). Yes, as you would expect, I thoroughly ran that one into the ground. As a matter of fact, it took years before I could even think about listening to the show again.

I went through a hiatus of sorts during the jr. high years when it came to musical theatre. Annie had run it's course in my life and I wasn't so keen on anything else...until high school when my mom got a hold of The Premiere Collection: The Best Of Andrew Lloyd Webber and she became obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera. Naturally, when the show came to LA, guess who went...a LOT? I think my family saw the show a good 6-7 times during it's 6 year (?) run in LA (obviously, the pure fact that I seem to have any kind of "obsession" is hereditary). After around my 2nd or 3rd time, I began to really notice the cast and production credits. Naturally, I became the biggest Davis Gaines fan (he has performed the title role in POTO a good 2,000+ times in his career) but that story is too long and rather embarrassing. In addition to Davis Gaines, I also became aquainted with Hal Prince's body of work during my The Phantom of the Opera phase. Naturally, I became as crazy about The Phantom of the Opera as I was with Annie back in the heyday. In my quest to truly find out everything I could, I realized that Hal Prince was the director/producer behind some of my favorite shows like Cabaret, A Little Night Music and Evita. I was only beginning to understand the scope of this man's work. The more I read, the more I saw, the more I realized that Hal Prince was it. He was involved in some way with almost every major musical in the last 50 years.

Hal Prince began his career working with the legendary George Abbott as an assistant stage manager. Since then, he has won 20 Tony Awards and was a 1994 Kennedy Center Honors Inductee. He has worked with (amongst others) both Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim -- two of the most revered composers of musical theatre in the last 30 or so years. In high school, it was because of these three men that I rediscovered my love of musical theatre. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the simple, melodic, typical Broadway shows whereas Stephen Sondheim wrote for the more intellectually minded theatre crowd whose songs were complex and poetic in their own way. It was Hal Prince though who really understood how to direct those shows.

Sadly, the reality is, I probably won't ever get to work with Hal Prince (which is fine). He's getting older and hasn't been working nearly as much (most recently worked with Sondheim in his newest production: Bounce which sadly...didn't...it flopped). In high school, my parents urged me to get cracking if I really wanted to fulfill my dream of someday working with Hal Prince. I should have listened...hahaha, look at where I am now -- no where near Hal Prince!

4 comments:

scmusicals said...

Don't lose heart...there's still the potential to work with him if you manage to move out to the East Coast. He still produces new works now and again.

But...for more pressing matters...where are these pictures of you dressed as Annie, and when are you going to post it to your blog? ;)

chizi said...

Hahaha, you wish Maureen! I aint posting those...EVER! :)

Mitch Glaser said...

Your knowledge of musical theater is impressive.

I think it's awesome that you loved "Annie" so much that you would perform it in full dress free of charge! That must have been a treat. I agree with Maureen: post the pics!

You never know...you may be able to work with Hal Prince someday...more importantly, someday a little girl may dream of working with you.

Tianyi Wang said...

Hey Lis, While you're working on your long term goal of working with Hal. How about a short term goal of meeting him? A thoughtful letter to him would be a good start. Don't wait too long like me. Balthus died within the year I decided to meet him one day!

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