Widely rumored for days, a spokesperson for The Producers has confirmed that Steven Weber will replace Matthew Broderick as the next Leo Bloom in the smash Mel Brooks musical. Weber and recently announced co-star British thespian Henry Goodman will begin their turn as The Producers producers March 19.
Weber is well known for his role on TV's "Wings" and more recently on the ABC drama "Once and Again." His 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."
Both Nathan Lane and Broderick are contracted in the show only through March 17, with Lane then off to do a movie about Jackie Gleason and Broderick set to play Harold Hill in a TV Music Man.
As for the show's four featured performers, including Brad Oscar, Roger Bart and Tony winners Gary Beach and Cady Huffman, Huffman has been confirmed to stay with the show, and word is soon expected as to whether or not the others will renew as well. *
Though there's been no official word on touring plans for the Broadway mega-hit The Producers, the tour's itinerary seems to be coming together. After the Pittsburgh Post Gazette received word from co-author Thomas Meehan that the mega hit tuner would start its tour in Pittsburgh, PA in September. That news was borne out by an audition notice from Johnson-Liff Casting, which said that rehearsals for the Producers' tour will start July 22, readying for a first performance in Pittsburgh Sept. 12. Actors at the Feb. 12, 14 and 15 Equity auditions are asked to eschew monologues and be "prepared to sing humorous songs from the American Musical Comedy Repertoire."
Meehan had also told the Post Gazette's Chris Rawson that after Pittsburgh, The Producers musical would likely continue on to Cincinnati, OH. Meehan also hinted that he and co-librettist/composer Mel Brooks would be in Pittsburgh for the launch of the tour, which will likely not be star driven.
A spokesperson for the Broadway Series told Rawson "no contracts have been signed or dates set" and would not confirm the booking, which would presumably play at the Benedum Center or Heinz Hall after Mamma Mia! (Aug. 27-Sept. 8).
Reached Jan. 30, a spokesperson at the T.M.G. marketing firm, which handles the tour, reiterated the organization's decision to treat The Producers differently from most Broadway national tours, which announce a whole slate of cities in one fell swoop: "As most markets confirm their subscription seasons, they'll make their individual announcements. We don't want to steal their thunder on the local level."
That said, the spokesperson said Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are likely cities for the tour, and that several other markets "are close to announcing, probably within the next month." There's no word, however, on casting or financing for the tour
In her Jan. 31 column, syndicated columnist Liz Smith reported that "the ink is all but dry" on contracts for Jason Alexander and Martin Short to play Biaystock and Bloom in the L.A. version, but a Barlow-Hartman spokesperson had "no comment" on tour casting, and a rep at Short's agency, ICM, told Playbill On-Line she had "no information" on the actor doing The Producers either in or outside of New York.
Previously, it's been confirmed that The Producers will make its West Coast debut at San Diego's Civic Theatre on New Year's Eve, though the show's Los Angeles plans remain up in the air. The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 15 that the producers of The Producers had been eyeing the Ahmanson Theatre but, under the assumption that the musical will be as big a hit in L.A. as it's been in New York and Chicago, they judged the 2,100-seat venue too small to reap the kinds of grosses a mega-hit can generate.
Instead, The Producers is now apparently eyeing a 30 week run at the 2,700 seat Pantages Theatre, even though The Lion King is still playing there. (According to the L.A. Times, Pantages temporarily reduced its seating capacity, from 2,704 to 2,261, specifically to ensure that the Julie Taymor tuner would remain a hot ticket and stay put for another year.)
As previously reported, on New Year's Eve 2002, San Diego will get the West Coast premiere of the tuner for a two-week run at the Civic Theatre through Jan. 12, 2003. Tickets at the 2,975-seat Civic will run decidedly less than the $480 top price for "Inner Circle" ducats at Broadway's St. James Theatre. Broadway/San Diego director Joe Kobryner told the San Diego Union-Tribune the price range for the CA stay will run $34.50-$78.
A report from the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain News notes that Denver Center Attractions, which had hoped to land the musical in 2003, won't see it until spring 2004 at the earliest.
The Producers continues to be Broadway's weekly box office champ, with its $480 "Inner Circle" seats helping push grosses regularly past the $1.2 million mark. For the week ending Jan. 27, the show took in $1,252, 479 and sold out 100.9 percent of its seats. The average paid admission was nearly $90.94, more than $5 higher than nearest competitor Mamma Mia!.
The grosses remain strong despite Nathan Lane playing only six performances per week in the show to maintain his vocal health.
For tickets and information on The Producers at the St. James Theatre, call (212) 239-5800. For Broadway Inner Circle tickets, call (212) 563-2929.