Casting changes in the Broadway company of The Producers have hogged the headlines so much lately that the show's one-year milestone April 19 is almost incidental.
The blockbuster musical by songwriter and co-librettist Mel Brooks, drawing on his Oscar-winning screenplay, opened April 19, 2001, and would go on to win a record 12 Tony Awards. Three other North American productions are in the works (two tours and a Toronto staging) and will begin within a year. No public celebration is planned for the Broadway anniversary, a spokesman said, but the cast will note it privately.
British actor Henry Goodman, who took over the role of Max following Nathan Lane's Tony-winning run in the show, was cut loose April 14 for not having the potent comic quality needed for the role. Brad Oscar, Lane's understudy who was Tony-nommed for the role of Franz in the show, graduated to the lead role permanently in the past week. Steven Weber, who took over the role of Leo from Matthew Broderick, remains with the cast. A planned "re-opening" for critics to review the new cast will remain May 1-2, as planned. Reviews are expected to appear on or after May 3.
The plot is a kind of love affair between a luckless producer, Max Bialystock, and Leo Bloom, a mousy accountant. They hatch a plan to raise more money than they need for a sure-fire Broadway flop and pocket the difference. Their "sure-fire" theatrical fiasco is none other than the musical, Springtime for Hitler, which turns out to be a hit. Brooks won an Academy Award for the screenplay of the film. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2001, and most every other award of the season.
Thomas Meehan (Annie) co-wrote the book with Brooks. The cast also includes Jim Borstelmann, Cady Huffman, Gary Beach and Roger Bart. Susan Stroman directed and choreographed, earning Tonys for her chores.
The Producers on Broadway is produced by Rocco Landesman; Clear Channel Entertainment; The Frankel • Baruch • Viertel • Routh Group; Bob and Harvey Weinstein; Rick Steiner; Robert F.X. Sillerman and Mel Brooks, in association with James D. Stern/Douglas Meyer and by special arrangement with StudioCanal.
The Producers enjoyed a tryout in Chicago in 2001 prior to Broadway. For Broadway ticket information, call (212) 239-5800.