Though some Broadway insiders speculated that Martin Short, Mel Brooks' original choice to be Leo Bloom in Broadway's The Producers, would be the one to step in when Matthew Broderick takes a six-week break from the show in the fall, production spokespersons for the mega-mega-hit musical now confirm that casting will stay "inside the company." As such, Roger Bart, a Tony nominee for his wildly effeminate Carmen Ghia, will move up to the co-star slot opposite Nathan Lane during Broderick's absence.
With Bart playing Leo, one of his two understudies — Jamie Laverdiere or Brad Musgrove — will step in as Carmen. Broderick's taking the time off to play Harold Hill in an ABC television version of The Music Man.
The Producers — as the front page of all the major dailies trumpeted — won a record 12 Tony Awards on June 3, beating Hello, Dolly!'s previous record of 10. With his Tony wins for the Broadway musical, The Producers, Mel Brooks entered a rarefied circle of people who have won a Tony Award, an Academy Award, a Grammy Award and an Emmy. Brooks won his Grammy for the famous comedy recording, "The 2,000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000." His Oscar was won for the screenplay of the original movie of "The Producers." And a recent guest appearance by Brooks on the sitcom "Mad About You" gave him an Emmy Award.
Brooks won Tony Awards June 3 for Best Book (with Thomas Meehan) and Best Score. Rita Moreno and Helen Hayes have also won all four prizes, considered the top honors in the fields of theatre, film, music and television.
As for the show itself, it could hardly be doing any better than it already is, but the box office did get a boost from the Tonys. According to a Barlow-Hartman spokesperson, the show took in $1.4 million in box office grosses for the 24 hours after the Tony ceremony. Though not as high as the $3 million the show made the day after it opened (and the reviews dubbed it the second only to the Second Coming), it is "a lot more than the daily average," the press rep noted. The many awards and new spurt of sales prompted The Producers' producers to release six more months worth of tickets. As such, ducats are now onsale through December 2002. For tickets and information on The Producers at the St. James Theatre, call (212) 239-6200. *
In other Producers news, the Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan-Susan Stroman smash Broadway musical is hoping to open a London production in early 2003. "It's looks the first three months of 2003," said Steve Baruch, part of the Frankel/Baruch/Viertel/Routh Group, one of the producers behind the monster hit. Baruch spoke to PBOL at the May 16 Tony Nominees Luncheon at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square.
"A lot of that has to do with [director-choreographer] Susan Stroman's schedule," he continued. "Contact is all over the place. And now the Harry Connick, Jr. Show," Thou Shalt Not, which will hit Broadway this fall, under Stroman's direction.
"The U.S. tour will precede London," Baruch added. Casting for both tour and London has not been addressed. No specific London theatre has been targeted, but Barach said, "SFX is a partner here and they have a great presence in London, including a producing-managing arm there."