July 31, 2019
Dear CABARET Company, Crew and Management:
Today, as you know, we lost a legend. Hal Prince meant a great deal, of course, to the American Theatre in general, but to CABARET, in particular. In short, there would be no CABARET if it weren’t for Hal. Sam has said as much, noting that it was Hal who did the difficult work of conceiving the show and its contrapuntal structure, wherein the cabaret numbers amplify the themes and values articulated in the book scenes. As John Kander said to me not long ago, while acknowledging the contributions of the many other creative talents over the years, “Make no mistake: this is Hal’s show.”
We have a special honor now with Hal’s passing. CABARET is the show that put him on the map as a major director. He practically invented the “concept” musical, starting with CABARET. He is the one who commissioned the show in first place – securing the rights to the Isherwood novel, bringing Masteroff, Kander and Ebb together, approving and vetoing the songs, conceiving the MC character – then producing it singlehandedly (convincing investors, taking it out of town to Boston, editing the material, casting it brilliantly, overseeing the unique design, etc.). He is the one who took the biggest risk when everyone else thought it was madness. We stand on his shoulders, tonight and at every performance.
No other theatre in the world is presenting this, the most successful, longest-running version of CABARET. Others have the same materials, but this production stands alone. You are it. And I am especially pleased that it is you; you are a beautiful company, and I know you take the show as seriously and perform it with as much passion and urgency as its original creator, Hal (and Sam and Rob and Fosse and all of Hal’s later torchbearers), would wish.
On a personal note, I will say that Hal was my hero. I read from a ratty, dog-eared copy of his 1974 autobiography “Contradictions” almost every day in college. I was not alone, of course. Every young director wanted to be Hal Prince.
Some of you got to work with Hal, or crossed paths with him. You have your stories of those interactions; I have mine. Share them, please. If you didn’t get that opportunity to meet or work with him, I hope you’ll listen to (or read) the stories. It’s a way of getting to know him; you’ll get a sense of the man, his unbelievable work ethic, his drive, and his passion. That’s one thing I love about the Theatre, honestly – the genuine respect we have for those that came before us, and how we value them (or should). Theatre is one of the few remaining professions that survives and thrives on apprenticeship and handing-it-down. It’s part of our noble profession. We may not get rich, but we have dignity. And tradition. We’re rich in that.
Missing you all, and with you in spirit on this special day, honoring Hal and all he created for us.
BT McNicholl, Director