*Do you see different choices being made about what to produce, based on how audiences have changed?*
I don’t think there’s as much courage as there should be, and that’s completely because of escalating costs. When I started producing [in the 1950s], the cost of a musical was $250,000. That very same musical today will cost you well over $10 million, and the people you get the money from are a different profile. I raised all my money from dressers and stagehands. Now you have to have wealthy people, and you have to know how to get wealthy people.
*Does Hollywood’s part on Broadway raise the stakes?*
Those producers must come into it with different expectations. Yes. And that also changes the audience. I went to a musical—I won’t name it—and I sat behind six people: a mother, father, and four kids. Those six people represented $600. They were in T-shirts and flip-flops and shorts, and I thought: I’m glad you’re here, but I regret that you don’t think of the theater as an occasion. I think it is an occasion. A sense of occasion makes it more important.
*Hamilton has created a huge audience of people of all ages interested in the history of the U.S., of the Founding Fathers. Is that a hopeful sign?*
It starts with the idea. It is the least likely idea for a musical, from Ron Chernow’s book. A lot of the shows I’ve done have been the least likely for a musical, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story. Cabaret—it’s about the rise of the National Socialist Party. The big lesson is, don’t underestimate audiences.
*Who carries the burden to nurture unlikely ideas, to be courageous?*
We need more creative producers. When I came into the theater, there were a lot of them, and they were creative, and they were people of some means—they were heirs to a fortune. They wanted to be in the theater, but they couldn’t write or act or design scenery, but they wanted to be in the company of people who did have those talents. The theater as such has a little less cachet than it did, but that would be predictable. That’s because there’s so much more TV and everything. You need to be more elitist. I think it’s a good thing, but it’s such a dirty word. It has more than one meaning.
— Harold Prince: Hollywood Has Changed Broadway (Bloomgberg)