Portrait of theater director Hal Prince. (Photo by Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Credit: Ray Fisher/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

Harold “Hal” Prince, a titan of Broadway who produced and/or directed many of the century’s most popular musicals, died Wednesday at age 91 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

“He is missed and loved by his family — Judy, his wife of 56 years; his daughter, Daisy; his son, Charles; and his grandchildren, Phoebe, Lucy, and Felix,” a family spokesperson said in a statement to EW. “As per his wishes, there will be no funeral but there will be a celebration of his life this fall with the people he loved most, the members of the theatrical community that he was a part of for seven decades.”

Over the course of his career in musical theater, Prince earned 21 Tony Awards — far more than any other individual. His first came in 1955 for The Pajama Game, and his last was a Lifetime Achievement Award granted in 2006. In between, Prince earned awards as both producer and director. He brought to the stage such influential musicals as Damn Yankees, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, and The Phantom of the Opera, which remains the longest-running show in Broadway history.

Though world-famous by now, many of those musicals started with unusual premises. Though Prince’s Broadway career began in the ’50s, when musical theater and pop music were almost synonymous, he soon helped the medium adapt to wide-ranging cultural changes.

“Popular music was the music of musicals, and it isn’t anymore,” Prince told NPR in 2017. “So, once that happened, you could examine other subjects and make musical numbers about an infinite variety of complicated psychological matter.”

Prince frequently collaborated with Broadway’s biggest talents, including Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bob Fosse, and more. Toward the end of his life, Prince started to look back on his achievements. In 2017 he published a memoir, Sense of Occasion, and directed his final Broadway production, Prince of Broadway — a retrospective of highlights from his best works. Evan Handler portrayed Prince in the 2019 FX series Fosse/Verdon.

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