Nathan Lane, Tony-winning star of Broadway's The Producers, continues to follow doctor's orders and play only six performances a week instead of the standard eight. The decision to do this for (at least) two weeks was made after Lane consulted with his doctors; the actor dropped out of the show two weeks ago after a polyp was discovered on his left vocal cord. As such, Lane has been performing only one show a day, Tuesday through Sunday, forgoing the Wednesday and Saturday matinees.
A Barlow-Hartman spokesperson told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 13) Lane and The Producers' producers will "re-evaluate the situation after this week is over. Hopefully he'll be doing more shows next week."
Brad Oscar, Lane's understudy, plays Max Bialystock when Lane is out. Oscar, who normally plays Nazi playwright Franz, covered the role of Max last week and has been generally well received.
Lane's struggles with the exhausting nature of the lead role of Max Bialystock have been well documented and led to the diagnosis. The polyp caused the actor to remove himself from the hit musical through Nov. 3, with doctors ordering him not to even speak until his throat healed. Lane did perform on Sunday, Nov. 4. Reports from those who saw the Sunday show said the actor was in poor voice but compensated with his trademark comic gusto and personality.
According to the Times, the polyp was found on Oct. 30. Since the show opened on Broadway last spring, Lane has occasionally missed performances. The musical requires him to be on stage much of the time, often yelling lines at the top of his voice as well as singing several songs, including the show-stopping comic aria "Betrayed." "My understanding is this can turn into something very serious if it's not treated," Lane's publicist, Simon Halls told the Times. "There's no permanent damage, but it's in a serious enough place that he's got to take care of it. He doesn't want to blow his voice out at 45. He's got a lot of shows in front of him."
Refunds or exchanges will be proffered to audiences who missed seeing Lane. Both Lane and co-star Matthew Broderick are contracted for the show through March 17. "An extension has been broached" for Lane, Barlow noted, "but nothing's confirmable at this point." He added that whatever Broderick's commitment to playing Harold Hill in an upcoming television version of The Music Man, the actor would not need to take an extended leave from The Producers to do so.
In other Producers proddings, productions of the hit tuner outside New York are still in the wait-and-see stage. No word yet on dates for the sit-down engagement in L.A., and 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. A Barlow-Hartman spokesperson told Playbill On-Line tourdates are still being worked out.
In further Producers news, Mel Brooks has milked a new revenue source out of the cash cow that is The Producers. The producer composer-librettist-funnyman has put out a new book, modestly titled, "The Producers! The Biggest Hit in the History of Broadway! How We Did It."
King Midas himself will appear at the 600 Fifth Avenue Barnes and Noble bookstore on Dec. 3 to sign this mighty tome. The event will take place from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM.
The TalkMiramax publication follows the process of developing the tuner, including how Brooks and Meehan went from a film script with two songs to a full-fledged Broadway book and score. The 224-page volume includes the show's dialogue and lyrics, as well as color photographs shot during rehearsals, onstage and behind the scenes.