Evan Pappas will play the Gene Wilder role in an upcoming workshop of Mel Brooks' new musical The Producers, a spokesman for the reading told Playbill On-Line. As previously reported by PBOL, Nathan Lane will fill the Zero Mostel part, with Susan Stroman directing.
Pappas was most recently seen in the Broadway musical, Parade. In The Producers, he will play a nervous accountant lured by Lane's barnstorming theatrical producer, into a scheme to make money by overselling interest in a musical sure to close.
Brooks had previously said he wanted Martin Short for the role.
In that last few months, Brooks had told the press he wanted Stroman to direct the Broadway musical version of his film comedy, “The Producers.” Then, in a March 2 appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman," Brooks, a guest on the show, pulled a contract for the musical out of his pants and told Nathan Lane, who was Letterman’s guest host, to sign it. Brooks told the crowd he wanted Lane to star in the planned stage musical, presumably in the role originated by Mostel. Well, Brooks got Stroman and Lane. "We're actually going to do a reading of [Mel's] musical," Stroman told Playbill (March 28). "He's written the musical and lyrics and the book. Every single page is funny."
Stroman added that Lane would participate in the reading, which would take place in New York in May or June. Lane's publicist confirmed the actor's involvement. Lane will star in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, due to begin previews begin June 27.
On the "Letterman" show, Lane laughed and acted sheepish but his attitude seemed to suggest such casting was very much a possibility and he revealed that Brooks’ hope is that Martin Short would play the accountant role, originated by Gene Wilder. Brooks agreed that the hope was for Tony Award-winner Short to join Tony-winner Lane.