Oscar was the understudy for the role of Max Bialystock and went on when original star Nathan Lane was out, but he landed the role permanently when Lane's successor, Henry Goodman, was considered not Max material by the creators and producers. Goodman was fired April 14, 2002, after a month of shows, and Oscar became the new Max April 16, opposite Steven Weber.
Oscar had played the part of Max more than 70 times and his turn was well reviewed by the critics.
At the time, 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 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."
At any rate, after a May 1, 2002, press re-opening, Oscar was well-reviewed by the critics, who embraced his bigger than-life performance and broad style, which are important for the role of the desperate, crooked producer, Bialystock, the former King of Broadway looking for renewed fame and fortune. Oscar won't be away from The Producers long. He leads the second national tour, which launches in Boston June 17. His partner in crime will be Andy Taylor, playing Leo Bloom.
The new Broadway Max is Lewis J. Stadlen, fresh off the first national tour. He steps into the St. James Theatre April 29. He play opposite Roger Bart as Leo to May 18, and then his tour co-star Don Stephenson becomes the new Leo on Broadway.
Oscar's company on tour will include Rich Affannato as Carmen Ghia, Ida Leigh Curtis as Ulla, Bill Nolte as Franz Liebkind and from the first national tour, Lee Roy Reams as Roger DeBris.
Oscar is said to be with the tour only through Nov. 30.
The Producers swept the 2001 Tony Awards, receiving the most awards in Broadway history, including Best Musical , Best Book of a Musical (Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan), Best Original Score (Mel Brooks), Best Scenic Design (Robin Wagner), Best Costume Design (William Ivey Long), Best Lighting Design (Peter Kaczorowski), Best Orchestrations (Doug Besterman), Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical (Susan Stroman).