The run featuring the duo — and the return of Roger Bart as Carmen Ghia and Gary Beach as Roger DeBris — is sold out, leaving ticketless theatregoers dreaming of the daily standing-room-only lines that will form.
Since Lane and Broderick left, the producers of the Tony Award-winning Mel Brooks musical comedy have admitted that the unbeatable hit has been something of a box office disappointment — but a relative disappointment. The show is not known as a mainstay at the TKTS discount tickets booth and has not exactly been playing to half-empty houses. This past fall, the capacity at the St. James Theatre hovered around 75 percent; the week of Dec. 15-21 the show was at 76.6 percent of capacity.
The reasons for the deflation of the mega-hit have been debated by industry folk and fans alike: Was the show over-promoted in 2001? Were Lane and Broderick over-promoted as the show's draw? For it being "the new Mel Brooks musical," was the writing of the show — with a libretto co-written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan — under-promoted? Should the producers have been more aggressive about marquee-value stars after the loss of Lane and Broderick? Is this box office slow-down a natural thing in the life of any hit show? Is the experience about the brilliant writing or about the personalities? Is The Producers a show for the ages, like, some would say, My Fair Lady?
The debate will continue in the coming months, when Lane and Broderick cash what has been reported as a weekly paycheck of $100,000 each. Even now, one imagines the producers of The Producers are strategizing about the post-Lane/Broderick period come summer. Will fresh stars appear?
* Tickets for the return of original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick went on sale by phone and in-person noon Nov. 16. The box office at the St. James Theatre was kept open four hours later than expected on Nov. 16, until 10 PM, to accommodate throngs of buyers.
The first 10 hours of the general-public sale, noon-10 PM, saw $3.6 million worth of tickets sold, representing about 40,000 tickets. After Nov. 16, buyers were hard-pressed for good seats, a spokesman said.
The line of ticketbuyers ran the length of West 44th Street between the theatre and Seventh Avenue, and numbered more than a thousand, according to observers. Others dialed the Telecharge.com phone line to charge by phone at (212) 239-6200.
Those now hungry to see Lane in his Tony Award-winning performance as corrupt impresario Max Bialystock, must look to ticket brokers, scalpers, eBay or the daily standing room lines. Standing room tickets are released 6 PM for evening shows at the St. James Theatre (there are 18 standing room locations there).
A gross box office number for the 112-performance Lane Broderick return was not released.
The show made Broadway history by winning 12 Tony Awards.
The return of Lane and Broderick had been expected; both actors had talked publicly about going back into the show around Jan. 1, 2004, but the first official word of exact dates and length of run came Nov. 4.
Coinciding with the return of Tony Award nominee Broderick (who created the stage role of nebbishy Leo Bloom, would-be producer) and Lane (who won a Tony Award as corrupt impresario Max Bialystock in the Mel Brooks musical) is the return of Roger Bart in the role of Carmen Ghia, the swishy assistant and partner of flamboyant director Roger DeBris (played by Tony winner Gary Beach).
The Producers will continue to star John Treacy Egan (Franz Liebkind) and Angie Schworer (Ulla). Original Broadway cast member Brad Oscar will stand by for the role of Max Bialystock, and Roger Bart will stand by for the role of Leo Bloom.
The cast also includes Jim Borstelmann, Jennifer Paige Chambers, Angie C. Creighton, Madeleine Doherty, Bryn Dowling, Kathy Fitzgerald, Robert H. Fowler, Adrienne Gibbons, Eric Gunhus, Kimberly Hester, Stacey Todd Holt, Naomi Kakuk, Matt Loehr, Peter Marinos, Mike McGowan, Larry Raben, Jason Patrick Sands, Jennifer Smith, Jenny-Lynn Suckling, Wendy Waring and Courtney Young.
The Producers opened on Broadway April 19, 2001.
The Producers 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 show has a Tony Award-winning book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan (based on the 1968 Mel Brooks movie), Tony Award-winning music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, and is directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.
The Producers playing schedule is Tuesday evenings at 7 PM, Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2 PM and Sunday matinees at 3 PM.
There are currently four North American companies of The Producers: Broadway, two national tours and the Toronto production.