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Twenty-Time Tony Winner Bemoans State of Broadway

By Andrew K. Mandel, Crimson Staff Writer

Harold Prince left this year's Tony Awards disgusted.

The Broadway impresario, who has spent a half-century creating musicals such as Evita, Cabaret, Company and Phantom of the Opera, was appalled to learn that the June ceremony's network telecast did not include any mention of authors, designers, directors or choreographers.

And that, the 20-time Tony Award winner told a packed Cabot House Living Room yesterday afternoon, is emblematic of Broadway's current, sorry state.

"I'm deeply concerned about the future of this art form that I've spent 50 years in," said Prince, who will turn 72 in January. "The advent of giant corporations--the conglomerations--has deeply inhibited creativity."

Prince bemoaned "McShows--small vest-pocket revue-type versions of Broadway shows," which take up space better used by more imaginative productions.

Prince's remarks led an audience member to ask if the future of theater is doomed.

"I don't think so," Prince said. "I'm in the theater--I'm an idealist, and I'm a dreamer."

Indeed, a jovial Prince pointed to several beacons in American musical theater.

"There is not on the face of this earth a better composer or lyricist than Stephen Sondheim," with whom Prince hinted he may soon be working again after a 19-year "vacation" from one another.

Prince said he will also be mounting a series of one-act musicals in Philadelphia--created by largely unknown artists--to encourage new talent.

Harvard students have benefited from Prince's interest in young perspectives.

The producer-director's speech, sponsored by the Office for the Arts' "Learning From Performers" program, followed an introduction by Brad Rouse '95, an aspiring director who became Prince's assistant soon after graduating from Dunster House four years ago.

"The whole process of creativity is a process of handing the baton on," Prince said.

Marisa N. Echeverria '00, who directed this month's production of HMS Pinafore, spent the summer as an intern in Prince's Rockefeller Center office.

"He's one of the most generous men I've ever met--and to be that generous in the position he's in is incredibly rare," Echeverria said.

Prince said Harvard students, who cannot earn a degree in the performing arts, are not at a disadvantage if they wish to enter theater production as a career.

"The extracurricular route is a sound one," Prince said. "You don't need someone standing over you with a stick and beating you with what plays you need to read."

At 16 years old, Prince entered the University of Pennsylvania and began his career in the footlights by acting.

"The minute the men came back from war, I stopped getting roles," Prince quipped.

The director's visit to campus yesterday began with a lunch of crabcakes at the Faculty Club before his hour-long question-and-answer session in Cabot.

"He's really inspirational for someone like me, who's looking to go to New York," said Sara A. Yellen '00. "I want to be him."

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