Broadway producer, director, impresario, fan, mensch, and legend, Harold Prince—“Hal”—was sovereign. I interviewed Prince a number of times over the years.The last time was in 2017, on the occasion of the upcoming Leonard Bernstein-Jerome Robbins centennial of 2018. Prince was always a fun interview: thoughtful, generous with his knowledge, and careful not to say anything that might hurt a colleague.

Here, words of wisdom, circa 2017, from the great man. —Laura Jacobs

On creativity

There are always scholarly people who go and dissect what you’ve done, but a lot of it is instinct, memory—memory you can’t even call up. It’s something that you put in the bank somewhere and it serves you well eventually.

Scholars always pinpoint everything, and every once and a while you smile because they did more scholarly research than you did. You know?

On potential backers who thought the song “Maria” in West Side Story was not singable

Look, any time you do anything that’s provocative or fresh or new or—in the best sense—pretentious, everybody’s just looking for a reason to not like something. And certainly if they’re being asked to put money in it, they resist.

On the drive, in both Bernstein and Robbins, to get “somewhere”—a place different, deeper, higher

By the way that’s common to Steve Sondheim too, and I like to think it’s occasionally common to me. You want to break some ground and do something you have not seen before. It’s a bridge. You keep constantly crossing that bridge. And that’s it. That’s the perk in creativity.

It’s fun to have success and a return for your investors and all that stuff. But really, the real pleasure is striving, isn’t it?