Picks and Pans Review: Harold Prince: from Follies to Phantom
updated 06/27/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/27/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Harold Prince is a show business wonder. He has directed or produced a phenomenal bunch of Broadway spectaculars—Cabaret, Evita, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, The Phantom of the Opera. He has won 16 Tonys. He certainly is worth an hour-long interview. But he deserves better than this amateurish chat show. It begins with narration that sounds like one of those how-to-fasten-your-seatbelts-as-if-you-can't-figure-it-out-for-yourself airline films; somebody thought that hiring a real announcer would make this at least sound like a real TV show. Then we see Hal sitting in a hotel room talking to an Arts and Entertainment Network producer who may be a very nice guy but who has the TV presence of a shrub. The producer asks stilted questions of the sort you used to see on college applications: "Are there any life experiences, perhaps in your childhood, that influenced you in your theater work?" Uh-oh, an essay question. The A&E producer rambles on about the play Company without describing it, presuming that we all got to see it on Broadway. He is very New York, too New York. And it appears that A&E couldn't afford to buy clips of Prince's Broadway shows; instead, we mostly see still pictures and hear songs from cast albums. This is no way to make a TV show, especially on what is supposed to be cable's fountain of class and culture. If A&E can't afford clips and fancy editing and studios, fine, then look back at how Greg Jackson used to do interviews on Signature and copy that. Or just buy more French movies.