May 10, 2008

Why I Love She Loves Me: Hal Prince

Hal Prince

Director and Producer of the 1963 Broadway premiere

I loved everything about She Loves Me, not only the finished work but the entire experience of producing and directing it in 1963. However, I should say I had little experience directing — none on a musical — but of course I’d been observing George Abbott and Jerome Robbins for a number of years, and apparently had been paying attention. The show starred four major performers: Barbara Cook, Dan Massey, Barbara Baxley (straight from the Actor’s Studio), and Jack Cassidy. All of them were artists, none of them were easy. So, during the almost five weeks of rehearsal, I believe they challenged everything I said, every move I told them to make, every motivation, every line reading (I did give line readings when necessary). I do not believe they let up on me until tech rehearsals, when miraculously it all seemed to have been planned by its director, and the show was working. I don’t blame them; I wouldn’t have listened to me either! The day after the show opened on Broadway, I received two wires: one from Richard Rodgers, and another from Leonard Bernstein, both of whom were blown away by it. 50+ musicals later, if not one of the most audacious I've ever done, I certainly rank it among the best.

-Hal Prince

Part five of a series, with notes by Jared Craig and Ilana M. Brownstein

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