Henry Goodman has been fired from the Broadway musical The Producers. The British actor took over from Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock on March 19, barely a month ago, and was due to open in the show in early May. He was terminated following the Sund ay, April 14 matinee performance, informed of the decision by his London agent over the phone.
Brad Oscar, who plays the musical's Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind and had often filled in for Lane, will take over the role permanently beginning with the April 16, Tuesday night performance. He has played the part of Max more than 70 times and his turn was well reviewed by the critics.
Steven Weber will continue in the role of Leo Bloom created by Matthew Broderick.
Susan Stroman, the director and choreographer of The Producers said in a statement, "I have the utmost respect for Henry Goodman. He is a wonderful actor and I would happily work with him again on another project. Henry has been very well received by audiences nightly, but the producers have decided to pursue a different quality for the r ole."
Goodman's reputation as a funny man is solid in Britain, but according to sources close to The Producers, he was not striking comic gold in his portrayal of the conniving Bialystock. The Post quoted a company member as saying Mel Brooks an d director-choreography Susan Stroman were "unhappy with the lack of progress Henry was making in the role." "I think they've made a mistake," Goodman told the New York Times. "I think they should have let the critics see me... But I think you're dealing with the pressure of Broadway, dealing with an industry where just giving a good performance isn't enough. I respect that they're dealing with an industry of millions of dollars on the line, and when you are, you start dealing with people as commodities, not as people... This is as much about the boardrooms as it is about the boards."
The decision has left the Broadway community divided, with many feeling the producers were justified in their decision and just as many angry over the way the dismissal was handled.
Goodman appeared on Broadway in Art and is best known for playing Shylock in Trevor Nunn's staging of The Merchant of Venice for the National Theatre. His movie credits include "Mary Reilly" and "Private Parts."
Goodman's casting as Max was announced in February. Many in the Broadway community were surprised by the move and the international press responded with several profiles of the English comedian.
Goodman will be paid the remaining eight months of his contract, at $15,000 a week, the New York Times reported.
Jim Borstelmann has been Oscar's standby for Franz in the past and will play the part on April 16 and for the immediate future.
The press date for the new duo of Oscar and Weber will remain May 1.
On March 19, Goo dman and Weber (known for TV's "Wings" and "Once and Again") took over the respective roles created by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in The Producers, the record-breaking 2001 musical comedy that earned an unprecedented 12 Tony Awards, includi ng a prize for Lane at the greedy impresario Max Bialystock. Weber plays the meek account, Leo Bloom, who transforms into a successful co producer when he and Max play fast and loose with the books of the show called Springtime for Hitler.