- Last Updated: 11:04 AM, May 14, 2012
- Posted: 10:55 PM, May 3, 2012
Broadway legend Hal Prince is putting the finishing touches on his musical revue, “Prince of Broadway,” which is due to open in New York in November.
Now all he has to do is find someone to raise the money.
Prince, whose shelves groan under his 21 Tony Awards, lost his original producer last week. Aubrey Dan, a Richie Rich type from Canada, abruptly pulled out of the production, complaining that the show had become too expensive.
And, in fact, the budget is said to be ballooning to $12 million — a big chunk of change for a revue, albeit one with numbers from such Prince classics as “She Loves Me,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Cabaret,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”
Money shouldn’t be a problem for Dan. His father, Leslie Dan, has earned a billion or so from a generic-drug empire. Aubrey’s been playing theater impresario for a couple of years, conspicuously attending openings in Toronto wearing a tuxedo cape and a fedora.
“He thinks he’s David Belasco,” says a theater executive who’s attended a few of those openings.
But unlike Belasco, who generally picked winners, Aubrey’s track record is spotty. Among his Broadway credits are “The Wedding Singer” (painful), “The Pirate Queen” (shiver me timbers, one of the worst shows ever) and that rip-roaring super-smash, “Leap of Faith.”
In Toronto he produced “Shrek,” a career-killer right there.
This week he told Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star that he was “stepping back” and “re-evaluating” his theater business.
I asked one of Dan’s associates to translate.
“Basically, Sugar Daddy said enough’s enough,” my source says.
Dan sent an e-mail this week to his cast — Linda Lavin, LaChanze, Shuler Hensley — announcing his withdrawal.
“It’s been a pleasure working with you,” he said, prompting one of them to remark: “ ‘Working with you?’ I never even met him!”
His exit opened the way for some more experienced Broadway hands to take over “Prince of Broadway.”
Richard Frankel and Tom Viertel are taking a close look at the show to see if they can whittle down the budget to $9 million. Their credits include “The Producers,” “Hairspray,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” and the aforementioned “Leap of Faith” (well, nobody’s perfect).
Even $9 million sounds pretty steep to me, but a veteran producer points out that “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” was produced in 1989 for $10 million — which today would be about $20million.
(One reason that show cost so much was that Robbins insisted on having six months of rehearsal.)
And “Prince of Broadway” does sound promising.
Susan Stroman, who directed “The Producers,” is putting it together with Prince. Rather than re-creating famous numbers from the past, they’re restaging them to fit Prince’s autobiographical script, which emphasizes the role luck — good and bad — played in his career.
Prince will be in the show.
He’ll be represented by a large talking Al Hirschfeld caricature of himself.
The original idea, I’m told, was to have a Hal Prince hologram that would wander around the stage. But that turned out to be a pretty pricey, if nifty, effect, so it was scrapped in favor of the Hirschfeld.
If you get bored during that stretch from “Parade” — not, I must confess, my favorite Prince show — you can always count the Ninas.
What a crafty old producer Michael Kaiser is. The head of the Kennedy Center, Kaiser was the lead producer on “Follies,” which is up for the Tony for Best Revival.
The show closed in January, but Kaiser’s about to reopen it in Los Angeles.
Because he combed the list of Tony voters and discovered that about a third of them live in LA.
The show closes in LA June 9, one day before “Follies” is sure to scoop up several Tonys.