Tuesday, March 9

Hal Prince and Paradise Found at the Menier Chocolate Factory

On the day that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies opens I found myself watching the documentary “Behind The Mask” which is about the months leading up to the opening night of Phantom of the Opera and the various disasters, hirings and firings that took place.

I had forgotten Cameron Mackintosh’s story about Hal Prince which is timely as he is about to come back to the UK to direct the world premiere of Paradise Found at the Menier Chocolate Factory.  Harold Prince was asked to direct Phantom of the Opera, agreed to do so and started work on it.  Messrs Lloyd Webber and Mackintosh became nervous as they were not convinced that he was able to devote enough time to its preparation with the other projects he also had on the go.  They were also enamoured with Trevor Nunn who was working for them on Les Miserables.

It was duly decided that Nunn would take over and Harold Price would be told his services were no longer required.  Bravery was summoned and Cameron and Andrew arranged a meeting with him in New York,  but come the appointed time there was no-one present from the Really Useful Group and Cameron had to do the dirty deed on his own.  Hal Prince was furious but recalls that he told his assistant to hold on to all the work he had already done as they would be back in a month!

Les Miserables subsequently transferred from the RSC to the Palace Theatre where it opened to horrendous reviews, Trevor Nunn was no longer the blue eyed boy and Hal Prince was reinstated!  Such is the fickleness of theatre.

Watching the Phantom documentary reminded me of what an extraordinary director Hal Prince is , so hopefully he will bring his magic to the Menier Chocolate Factory when Paradise Found previews there from Wednesday 19th May and runs until 26th June.  He is co-directing the production with another Broadway legend, Susan Stroman,  with a cast straight from New York including Mandy Patinkin, Kate Baldwin, John Cullum, Shuler Hensley and Judy Kaye.

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