Sense of Occasion

Series: Applause Books
Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
Format: Hardcover
Author: Harold Prince

In this fast-moving, candid, conversational, and entertaining memoir, Harold Prince, the most honored director/producer in the history of the American theater looks back over his seventy-year (and counting!) career.

In 1974, Prince released his first book, Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre. Although Contradictions has since attained cult status among producers, directors, and actors alike, Prince, in hindsight, believes he wasn't ready to publish such a tome at that point in his career (in fact, doing so was an act of “insane arrogance”). Although he doesn't regret that effort, he is at last prepared to conclude it, to “see where I was right in my assessments and where I was wrong.” In Sense of Occasion, Prince returns to this seminal text, invigorating it with fresh insights cultivated through four decades of additional practice.

Sense of Occasion gives an insider's recollection of the making of such landmark musicals as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita, and Phantom of the Opera, with Prince's perceptive comments about his mentor George Abbott and his many celebrated collaborators, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, John Kander, Boris Aronson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Angela Lansbury, Zero Mostel, Carol Burnett, and Joel Grey. As well as detailing his titanic successes that changed the form and content of the American musical theater, Prince evenhandedly reflects on the shows that didn't work, most memorably and painfully Merrily We Roll Along. Throughout, he offers insights into the way business is conducted on Broadway, drawing sharp contrasts between past and present. This thoughtful, complete account of one of the most legendary and long-lived careers in theater history, written by the man who lived it, is an essential work of personal and professional recollection.

$29.99 (US)
Inventory #HL 00142751
ISBN: 9781495013027
UPC: 888680050429
Width: 6.0"
Length: 9.0"
358 pages


“To read Hal Prince's magnificent Sense of Occasion is to experience some of the musical theatre of the past sixty years in the room where it happened. It's required reading for musical theatre fans.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Hal Prince's shows have inspired me and taught me so much over the years; it's wonderful to receive even more inspiration and lessons from his words.” – Stephen Schwartz

“In Hal Prince's Sense of Occasion, there is the thrill of hearing his clear presentation of a groundbreaking career. What is remarkable is his own honest voice in assessing the failures of artistic triumphs and the triumphs of artistic failures. For anyone who loves theatre and wants to develop the heart, the nerve, and the grit to pursue this love, Sense of Occasion is a must-read.” – Paula Vogel


“Broadway continues to view innovation with a wary eye, and its economic bloat has left no room for producer/directors of the sort Prince once was . . . [t]his forthright account of a lifetime spent defying theatrical odds will leave longtime theatergoers wistful for the days when individual taste, guts and faith in a personal vision were occasionally enough to get a show to Broadway.” – Washington Post

“[Sense of Occasion] is not only a fine tribute to a man who has done so much to promote musical theatre and also, to a lesser extent, straight plays in America and across the globe, but also a real page turner.” – British Theatre Guide

“In 295 taut pages, Harold Prince deftly chronicles the totality of his legendary career as a stage director and producer in Sense of Occasion. From The Pajama Game in 1954, to the 2017 retrospective Prince of Broadway, all of his nearly 50 productions and his stellar collaborators are recounted with candor, straightforwardness and charm over the course of 45 concise chapters...Introspective, practical and focused, Sense of Occasion is a vast contribution to the annals of theatrical history by one of its leading figures.” Theater Scene

“Sometimes a revival is better than the original. This is true not just of theater but of love and also of the Broadway titan Harold Prince's new memoir, Sense of Occasion – which is to a large degree his old memoir, annotated and updated considerably, but left with its fine patina essentially undisturbed...[t]he most important characters in his book and his world are not himself or the star actors, but his collaborators, who have always included the audience. This autobiography is not the grand chandelier crashing down as at the end of the first act of Phantom, but a series of warming, twinkling lights.” – The New York Times

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