The red carpet was rolled out at the Avalon Theatre on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Monday night for the premiere of Hal Prince’s Broadway, a one-hour documentary salute to one of Broadway’s greatest creative minds, channeled through the exuberance and showmanship of the Young Artists of America, one of the most vibrant training grounds for musical theater artists and musicians in the DC area. Hal Prince’s Broadway, produced by Maryland Public Television, will premiere this Saturday, October 14, 2023, at 7 p.m. on MPT-HD and the MPT live stream. It will re-air on Sunday, October 15 at 1 p.m. and will be available to stream on-demand on the free PBS App following the premiere.
Over 300 young performers and their families posed for photos on the red carpet, and a giddy excitement lent a Hollywood-style opening night atmosphere to the screening. “Tonight is special because it’s the culmination of more than a year’s worth of work by these youth artists and all our professionals behind them. And of course, it’s a major tribute to one of the icons of Broadway—Hal Prince,” noted Lisa Larragoite, executive director of YAA.
“It’s an incredible evening. This premiere is about celebrating our community as much as celebrating Hal Prince and his musical legacy,” added Kristofer Sanz, as present and former members, many of whom traveled from college campuses, crowded around their rock star musical director and conductor. Hal Prince’s Broadway was conceived and curated by Rolando Sanz, with book and direction by Carole Graham Lehan, choreography by Dana Keane and Alyxzandra Blanch, and features over 180 young artists from the YAACompany, YAAOrchestra, and YAAjunior under the direction of Kristofer Sanz.
Drawing inspiration from the theatrical spectacular produced by YAA at the Music Center Strathmore in April, the documentary is a joyful, fast-paced mix of music performances from the talented YAA performers and musicians intercut with archival footage from Prince, Stephen Sondheim, and Andrew Lloyd Webber along with additional insightful and delightful segments on Prince’s creative process from the young performers. Having attended the one-night-only performance, this writer can confidently share that this documentary does it justice and more; it shines a spotlight on one of Hal Prince’s own stated goals—to nurture new talent—and what talent is on display here.
Shot at the Edward and Irene Kaplan Studio at MPT last spring, and directed by William Clarke, this deft documentary gives a sweeping look at Hal Prince’s impact on the Broadway stage. From the young people’s musical performances from Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Cabaret, West Side Story, to the soaring orchestral performance from Phantom of the Opera, to A Little Night Music, Showboat, Evita, Follies—to the gripping and heartbreakingly rendered number from Parade, “All the Wasted Time”—Hal Prince’s Broadway is a documentary to celebrate.
“This is the second time MPT’s audience has been treated to a YAA production. Our last collaboration was The Songs of Tim Rice,” said Steven Schupak, station manager and executive vice-president of MPT. The 2017 Tim Rice production went on to win a regional Emmy Award. Anticipation should be high for more awards for this production.
However, to be at the Avalon to experience the bursts of applause from these young performers after each number, as they spotted themselves or their friends on the big screen—and to see the excitement in my daughter—was reward enough for this writer. Proud Mama disclosure and moment: look for Sara Bock on screen, first chair clarinet, having the time of her life in Hal Prince’s Broadway with the Young Artists of America.
Young Artists of America welcome next generation to ‘Hal Prince’s Broadway’ (review of the live performance by Caroline Bock, April 4, 2023)