Vegas Producers to Launch Jan. 31 with Oscar, Raben, Hasselhoff and Zimmerman

By Kenneth Jones
January 26, 2007

The cast of the new 90-minute Las Vegas production of Mel Brooks' The Producers is gearing up for its first performance Jan. 31.

In addition to Tony Award nominee Brad Oscar as obnoxious Max, Larry Raben as nebbishy Leo and David Hasselhoff as flamboyant Roger DeBris, the cast opening at Paris Las Vegas in February boasts Leigh Zimmerman (The Will Rogers Follies, "United 93") as Ulla. A veteran of the Broadway production, she was an Olivier Award nominee for originating the role in the London production.

Performances of the freshly modified production begin Jan. 31 at Paris Las Vegas toward a Feb. 9 grand opening.

In addition to internal libretto trims, cut songs include "Der Guten Tag Hop Clop" (though the rooftop scene remains), "That Face" and "Betrayed," a spokesman confirmed.

Why a 90-minute Producers when the two-and-a-half-hour show has been a Broadway smash since 2001? The general wisdom in producing circles is that antsy, distracted, gaming-minded crowds in Las Vegas don't want to invest too much time or thought in the apparently passive act of theatregoing, so the writing — the craft — gets slashed to accommodate the masses.

Avenue Q, Hairspray and The Phantom of the Opera have been edited for time there, but the long-running Mamma Mia! is seen in its full two-act version in Vegas, where spandex, glitter and ABBA are apparently catnip to tourists.

The Vegas cast also includes Rich Affannato as Carmen Ghia, Fred Applegate as Franz Liebkind, and Melanie Allen, Jim Ambler, Nancy Beard, Steven Ted Beckler, Gail Bennett, Patrick Boyd, Jen Lee Crowl, Erica Hamilton, Daniel Herron, Chris Holly, Shari Jordan, Katrina Loncaric, Kimmie Louwsma, Sinclair Mitchell, Nick Santa Maria, Jessica Sheridan, Alet Taylor, Matthew Vargo, Erick Walck and Kent Zimmerman.

The Mel Brooks-Thomas Meehan musical comedy opened on Broadway on April 19, 2001, to rave reviews, and is the recipient of the most Tony Awards in Broadway history (12, including Best Musical). It's based on Mel Brooks' Academy Award-winning 1968 film of the same name.

The show tells the story of down-on-his-luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock (Brad Oscar) and Leo Bloom (Larry Raben), a mousy accountant. Together, with the help of their flamboyant director, Roger DeBris (David Hasselhoff), they hatch the ultimate scam: to raise more money than they need for a sure-fire Broadway flop and pocket the difference. Their "sure-fire" theatrical fiasco is called Springtime for Hitler!

The Producers has a Tony Award-winning book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, Tony Award-winning lyrics by Mel Brooks, and Tony Award-winning direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. The musical also has scenic design by Robert Wagner, costume design by William Ivey Long and lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski (all Tony Award winners for their respective work).

The Producers was originally produced on the New York stage by Rocco Landesman, Live Nation, 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 and Douglas Meyer and by special arrangement with StudioCanal.

Paris Las Vegas, known for its 50-story replica of the Eiffel Tower, is a Harrah's Entertainment resort. Tickets are now on sale for February, March and April dates of The Producers in Las Vegas.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Paris Las Vegas box office at (877) 374-7469, or online at parislasvegas.com.

The Producers will play seven shows a week: 8 PM Monday and Tuesday, 8 PM Thursday-Sunday, with a matinee 2 PM Saturday. No performances Wednesday. Tickets range $75.50 to $143.50.