He’s Mr. Entertainer, Mr. Theater,” said director-producer Hal Prince of George Abbott, who will be 89 in June. Abbott has produced, authored, directed and acted in the staggering total of 117 productions since he entered the theater 64 years ago. Among his many hits are Pajama Game, Pal Joey and Call Me Madam. He is now casting his 118th production, Music Is.
More than 40 of the hundreds of performers who got their first break in an Abbott show paid tribute to him last week at the Shubert Theater, incidentally raising some $50,000 for the Theatre Friends of the Museum of the City of New York. Nancy Walker may have best summed up the awe most performers felt. Onstage, she looked down at Abbott in the audience and said nervously, “I feel like I’m still auditioning,” then added, “When I grow up to be as young as you are, Mr. Abbott, will you save a rumba for me?”