The casting of the lead roles in the national tour of The Producers has been an open secret for weeks going on months—but without any official confirmation. The word of Mel Brooks, however, would seem official enough.
The multiple Tony-winner told Variety June 19 that Lewis J. Stadlen and Don Stephenson would play Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom in the first U.S. tour, which launches Sept. 10 in Pittsburgh. Once that road show reaches L.A. for a long stay, beginning June 30, 2003, other leads are expected to take the roles and Stadlen and Stephenson (By Jeeves, Titanic and a current Private Lives understudy) would, in theory, leap frog into the second touring company that begins in July 2003 in Boston. The Variety column indicates Jason Alexander and Martin Short are interested in Max and Leo for L.A., but Brooks was coy about announcing them.
Brooks also told Variety original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick would headline the London premiere of the musical. The duo will stay with the show for six months beginning either December 2003 or January 2004.
A spokesperson for the tour said an official announcement of the tour casting will come from the general manager only when contracts are signed.
Archerd reported Angie L. Schworer (of the Broadway ensemble) will be Ulla in the fall tour. Lee Roy Reams (1980's 42nd Street) has said in press interviews he will play Roger De Bris on the road. Jeff Hyslop (Kiss of the Spider Woman) is expected to play Carmen Ghia in the first tour. A representative for Fred Applegate said the actor would play Franz Liebkind on the road. Jim Walton (Merrily We Roll Along, Crazy for You) had previously been mentioned to play Leo on the road.
The fall 2002 national tour will sitdown in Los Angeles for nine months beginning in April 2003 and Jason Alexander and Martin Short will apparently be "put in" (as they say in the business) to the L.A. run while Stadlen and Stephenson leapfrog into the leads of the second road company that begins in Boston in July 2003.
The second company's first booking is in Boston, June 17-July 13, 2003.
These two U.S. tours are separate from the Toronto company that will begin in late spring or summer 2003 at the Canon Theatre (formerly the Pantages) in Ontario, likely for a run of several years.
It was previously thought the first tour launching in Pittsburgh in fall 2002 would be separate from the April-December 2003 L.A. sitdown but it will indeed be the company that moves to the Pantages in L.A.
"There was never a scenario under which we would have had road two companies out in the next year," a spokesperson clarified April 18. "The first company opens in September of 2002 — and has always been the same company that opens in Los Angeles in May of 2003. The second company was originally contemplated to open in Toronto. Subsequently, the producers, along with [Toronto presenters] the Mirvishes determined that Toronto could sustain a third 'sit-down' company, dates to be determined. The second company now opens in Boston in June 2003. The timing of each tour's opening is based primarily on Susan Stroman's availability to direct each production, and have been scheduled to work within her commitments to other shows."
Some announced dates for The Producers include:
- Cincinnati's Aronoff Center Oct. 22-Nov. 10.
- Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre Nov. 12-Dec. 7.
- San Diego's Civic Theatre Dec. 31-Jan. 12, 2003.
- Tempe, AZ's Gammage Auditorium Jan. 14-Feb. 2, 2003.
- Seattle's Paramount Theatre Feb. 5-16, 2003.
- Portland's Keller Auditorium Feb. 18-March 2, 2003.
- San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre March 4 April 27, 2003.
- Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre April 29, 2003 Jan. 4, 2004.
- Boston's Colonial Theatre June 17-July 13, 2003.
- Appleton, WI's Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Sept. 16 28, 2003.
As bookers solidify their subscription seasons in markets around the country, with Producers as the jewel in the crown, those engagements are being announced individually. Producers tour tickets are available mostly as part of subscriptions at this point; single tickets generally go on sale 4-6 weeks before the engagement.
The smash musical comedy continues at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, starring Brad Oscar and Steven Weber.