For weeks, The Producers, a stage adaptation of Mel Brooks' classic comedy film, seemed to be alive but dormant, with little known about it except that Susan Stroman had been tapped to direct and choreograph, Nathan Lane was all-but-inked to star, and Annie librettist Thomas Meehan was co-writing the book.
However, further news is finally starting to trickle in, now that auditions are being held for chorus and other roles. According to Show Business' newspaper's Casting section (Aug. 16), Equity auditions for female singers were being held Aug. 17 at Chelsea Studios, with Johnson-Liff Associates serving as the casting directors. The paper also reports that the producers of The Producers will be Richard Frankel Productions, Scorpio Entertainment, Jujamcyn Theatres and SFX Theatrical Group. (A Jujamcyn source confirmed Jujamcyn's involvement and noted that the Frankel office would serve as general managers.) The Show Business casting announcement also lists Glen Kelly as musical supervisor.
As previously reported, according to a BrooksFilms spokesperson, author Brooks is out of the country until the end of August, so details on when, where and who will be in the show have been slow in coming. Though Matthew Broderick as Lane's co-star seems like an open secret in the industry (an Aug. 17 Variety story about director Stroman lists it as fact), Broderick's agent at CAA told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 18) that the actor has been offered the role but no deal has yet been made.
What is known is that Brooks is adapting his screenplay with co librettist Meehan, who wrote the book for the mega-hit Annie. Brooks is also penning the words and music to a couple of new tunes for the show, though the song titles are not yet available for publication. The film version, though about the birth of a rotten Broadway musical, actually had only three songs in it: the mock-60's-rock "Love Power," the cheery "Prisoners of Love" and the towering anthem, "Springtime for Hitler."
Though no cast members are actually confirmed at this point, in a March 2 appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman," Brooks, a guest on the show, pulled a contract for the musical out of his pants and told Lane, who was Letterman’s guest host, to sign it. Brooks told the crowd he wanted Lane to star in the planned stage musical, presumably in the Max Bialystock role originated by Zero Mostel. Lane, currently starring in the Roundabout's The Man Who Came to Dinner, agreed. As for the character of Leo Bloom, the nebbishy accountant rooked by Max into co-producing a flop Broadway musical for financial gain, early reports had Brooks interested in Martin Short for the role played on film by Gene Wilder. More recently, Broderick (How to Succeed in Business...) has been mentioned, with Lane telling the New York Observer (article dated July 24), "Matthew Broderick will hopefully play Leo Bloom." Mario Cantone, currently starring in The Crumple Zone Off-Broadway, has also been mentioned for a role.
There is no confirmation for dates or a theatre for The Producers (sources have been pointing to the St. James, current home of Swing!). However, Brooks' spokesperson did say the earliest Broadway might see the musical would be January 2001.
"We're actually going to do a reading of [Mel's] musical," director Stroman told Playbill (March 28). "He's written the musical and lyrics and the book. Every single page is funny." Evan Pappas was then slated to play Leo Bloom, in an upcoming workshop of the new musical, a spokesman for the reading told Playbill On-Line. Pappas was most recently seen in the Broadway musical, Parade.