Right about now Henry Goodman and Steven Weber might be feeling what the replacements for Merman, Channing and Streisand felt following the indelible performances created by those famed ladies in smash shows.
On March 19, Briton Goodman (seen on Broadway in Art) and Weber (known for TV's "Wings" and "Once and Again") take 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, including 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.
Weber's big-screen credits include "I Woke Up Early the Day I Died" and "Jeffrey" as well as Brooks' own "Dracula: Dead and Loving It." Weber's stage credits include the first Broadway mounting of The Real Thing and most recently Hair at Los Angeles' Wadsworth Theatre.
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."
The company at the St. James includes original cast members Brad Oscar, Roger Bart and Tony Award-winners Gary Beach and Cady Huffman. Goodman and Weber have about six weeks to settle into their roles before critics are invited back May 1-2. Expect new reviews to be published on or after May 3 (unless some critics break the courtesy due to the popularity of the show and the high ticket prices).
New York is eager to see what Goodman and Weber come up with in roles so associated with Lane and Broderick. Observers say the show is ultimately the star, and note that Lane and Broderick were able to step out of the shadow of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, the actors who created the film roles.
For ticket information about The Producers at the St. James Theatre, call (212) 239-5800.
Lane is taking a needed vocal rest and explore future projects, including a possible TV series and a movie about Jackie Gleason, and Broderick will begin filming the Disney TV movie-musical, "The Music Man," playing Harold Hill to Kristin Chenoweth's Marian the Librarian.
Songwriter and co-librettist Brooks (on whose film the stage musical is based) and director-choreographer Susan Stroman were on hand after the Sunday March 17 matinee to present Lane and Broderick with flowers. Speeches and tears followed.
The show was Lane's greatest stage triumph to date, winning him cheers and a Tony Award for Best Actor (Musical). During the run, the vocally-taxing role seriously threatened the health of his voice and he missed a number of performances to preserve it.