Jeff Hyslop, the Canadian actor who has been hissing his way through the role of Carmen Ghia in The Producers on national tour, took a temporary personal leave of absence from the smash road show Nov. 12, during the current Minneapolis engagement.
Hyslop is expected to return to the tour of the Mel Brooks musical comedy that's been breaking box office records on its route across the country. Come spring 2003, this company unpacks its bags for at least an eight-month run in Los Angeles, where Jason Alexander and Martin Short join the troupe as Max and Leo, the titular characters. It's thought that Lewis J. Stadlen and Don Stephenson, the current leads on tour, will leap-frog into the second national touring troupe that begins in June 2003, in Boston, but that has not been officially announced. Single tickets for Boston 2003 go on sale Nov. 29.
The national tour of The Producers had its official opening night Sept. 18 following previews that began Sept. 10 at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, kicking off a multi-city run. Stadlen (45 Seconds From Broadway) and Stephenson (By Jeeves) play Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, respectively, in the tour of the smash musical, which played three weeks in Pittsburgh (to Sept. 29) and then moved on to Cleveland (Allen Theatre, Oct. 1-20) and Cincinnati (Aronoff Theatre, Oct. 22–Nov. 10), followed by Minneapolis (Orpheum Theatre, Nov. 12–Dec. 8). Future dates are St. Louis (Fox Theatre, Dec. 10-29), San Diego (Civic Theatre, Jan. 1-12, 2003), Tempe (Gammage Auditorium, Jan. 14–Feb. 2, 2003), Seattle (The Paramount. Feb. 5–16, 2003), Portland (Civic Theatre, Feb. 18–March 2, 2003), San Francisco (Orpheum Theatre, March 4–April 27, 2003).
Rehearsals began in late July, with teching happening in Newark. Stadlen told Playbill On-Line some slight lyric and book tweaks have been made (by co-librettist, lyricist and composer Mel Brooks), as well as some changes by director Susan Stroman, but audiences should expect a brassy approximation of the 12-time Tony Award-winning original. The cast size is the same as the original.
Stadlen also said that although Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick originated the roles of Max and Leo (some say indelibly), Stroman and Brooks encouraged Stadlen and Stephenson to experiment and make the parts their own. The main concern of Brooks and Stroman, Stadlen said, was that the leads have the show's high-spirited comic style down pat. As long as the style was preserved, the actors were freed to explore the parts and add some of their own goofy choices, which are expected to ripen when the troupe gets before a full audience.
The 55-year-old Stadlen (a pal of Nathan Lane's who is now stepping into a role created on Broadway by Lane) was most recently seen on Broadway in Neil Simon's 45 Seconds From Broadway. His other Broadway credits include The Man Who Came to Dinner, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (for which he was Tony-nommed) with Nathan Lane, Laughter on the 23rd Floor (with Lane) and Hal Prince's 1973-74 staging of Candide (another Tony nom). He toured in the Jerry Zaks-directed staging of Guys and Dolls (as Nathan Detroit, which Nathan Lane also created for that Broadway production).
His film credits include "The Verdict," "Serpico," "In & Out" and "To Be Or Not To Be" with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.
Stephenson's Broadway credits include Private Lives, By Jeeves, Parade and Titanic. Off Broadway, he was seen in Bus Stop, The Tavern and Chess.
The company also includes Fred Applegate (Franz Liebkind), original 42nd Street alum Lee Roy Reams (Roger De Bris) and Broadway Producers veteran Angie Schworer (Ulla). Conductor and musical director is Don York. The ensemble includes Melanie Allen, Alan Bennett, Pam Bradley, Jennifer Paige Chambers, Jennifer Clippinger, Jennifer Lee Crowl, Meg Gillentine, Michael Goddard, Daniel Herron, Nancy Johnston, Kimberly Jones, Michael Kostroff, Jillana Laufer, Robin Lewis, Kevin Ligon, Melissa Rae Mahon, Greg Reuter, Jessica Sheridan, Jerald Vincent, Patrick Wetzel and Kent Zimmerman.
Stadlen and Stephenson are on tour through the San Francisco engagement (to April 27, 2003).
A separate Toronto company is expected in 2003.
The Producers is drawn from Mel Brooks' 1968 comic film about a pair of producers who raise money for a sure-fire flop and plan to pocket the extra when their musical fails. The musical, Springtime for Hitler, becomes a smash, of course and they are busted. Brooks penned the book with Thomas Meehan, and wrote music and lyrics for the show. Stroman directs and choreographs.
The musical won an unprecedented 12 Tony Awards in 2001.
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