Scope and arrangement
The Harold Prince papers (1954-1999) consist of administrative files and production files documenting his professional life as a director and producer, and a small amount of personal papers. Administrative files illustrate the day-to-day operations of Prince's production office. Production files contain detailed information on virtually all of Prince's shows from The Pajama Game (1954) to Parade (1999).
The administrative files consist of general correspondence and subject files documenting the interactions of the Prince office with theatre companies, agents, writers, actors and directors and general business not pertaining to specific productions. These materials cover all aspects of how a multi-million dollar production company started out: what organizations and individuals they corresponded with, how they handled contractual negotiations, investments, profits and losses and which records they considered important enough to retain. The files cover the years he was in partnership with Robert Griffith, from 1955-1961, and the years after Griffith's death.
The production files most often concern the business rather than the artistic aspects of productions, although some of these files deal with the creative process of directing and producing a musical. Types of materials include scripts, scrapbooks of correspondence, programs and publicity materials., photographs; stage manager's calendars, cue logs, and set and costume designs; financial records, bills, payrolls and royalty statements; production and casting notes, headshots and resumes; business correspondence; contracts and legal negotiations with the Actors' and Musicians' unions; publicity materials including clippings, reviews and press releases.
Additional files document Prince's involvement in an administrative and/or artistic capacity with: the National Opera Institute (later known as the National Institute for Music Theatre) and the Phoenix Theatre. Materials include correspondence, financial records, internship applications, clippings, reports on trustees meetings and publicity materials.
Personal files include drafts, galleys, correspondence and publicity materials pertaining to Prince's autobiography, Contradictions; Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre, as well as personal correspondence, photographs, and other personal ephemera.
The Harold Prince papers are arranged in four series:
- 1955-198734 boxes
This series consists of two alphabetical sequences of subject files maintained by the Prince office over two different time spans. These files consist of correspondence, script submissions, programs, legal and financial documents and reports and publicity materials. Also included are two groups of separated general correspondence files, arranged in alphabetical and chronological sequences.
- 1954-1999296 boxes
This series contains materials pertaining to theatrical productions directed and/or produced by Harold Prince from the 1950s-1980s and covers all aspects of production, including creative, technical and financial. In addition to productions directed and/or produced by Prince, there are also files on many shows for which he acted as an official or unofficial advisor. There are also files for proposed works, which never came to fruition, including projects by Prince's most notable collaborators, such as Stephen Sondheim, Bock and Harnick, and Kander and Ebb. This series also contains materials related to some of Prince's film projects including A Little Night Music and Something for Everyone.
Though not listed in this finding aid, this series includes audio/visual materials, including sound recording of demos, backers' auditions, rehearsals, live performances (some of foreign productions) and advertising spots. Shows that have sound recordings include Ashmendai, Diamonds, A Doll's Life, Evita, Grind, A Little Night Music, Roza, Side by Side by Sondheim and Sweeney Todd. Also included are film reels of publicity spots from the film version of A Little Night Music. Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the series may be directed to the Billy Rose Theatre Division (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
- 1972-198718 boxes
This series consists of files concerning two organizations for which Prince served as an artistic administrator. Prince served as Chairman of the National Institute for Music Theatre, which was established in 1969, (then called the National Opera Institute) as a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the support and advancement of opera, operetta, American musicals, and related experimental works.
Prince served as Artistic Director of the Phoenix Theatre, founded by Norris Houghton and T. Edward Hambleton in 1953 to provide theatre of high quality that would attract both artist and theatergoer, and would be available at reasonable prices. Materials pertaining to specific Phoenix Theatre productions, such as The Visit, can also be found in Production Files.
- 1962-198119 boxes
Personal files include materials dealing with honors and awards given to Prince, his travels, his family and civic matters in which he took an interest and his 1974 autobiography, Contradictions; Notes On Twenty-Six Years In The Theatre. Materials include personal correspondence, manuscript drafts and galleys, award certificates, photographs and publicity materials.
Though not listed in this finding aid, this series includes audio and visual materials, such as recordings of publicity pertaining to Prince, such as the BBC's American Showmen radio program on Prince. Inquiries regarding audio and video materials in the series may be directed to the Billy Rose Theatre Division (email@example.com). Audio/visual materials may be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.