A week before their planned eight-month run in Los Angeles, Short (as Leo) and Alexander (as Max) debut their title performances in the national tour of The Producers, jumping into the San Francisco leg of the show, April 21-26 at the Orpheum Theatre.
Short plays nebbishy Leo and Alexander is blustery Max in the subsequent Los Angeles run, May 2, 2003-Jan. 4, 2004, at the Pantages Theatre. It's not uncommon for actors to join an existing company early to get their feet wet on the road, particularly in strenuous central roles. (It often happened with the national tour of Chicago, when stars such as Sandy Duncan or Robert Urich were planning on coming to Broadway and wanted to tryout in relative quiet and obscurity.)
Alexander won a Tony for Jerome Robbins' Broadway and Short won for Little Me.
Lewis J. Stadlen (Max) exited the national tour in San Fran April 13 and Don Stephenson's last road performance as Leo was April 20. They are headed to the Broadway production later this spring.
After April 26, the tour settles into At Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre, where ticket sales have been brisk, a spokesperson said. The star duo will play the entire eight month engagement, to Jan. 4, 2004. Gary Beach, the Tony Award-winning Roger DeBris of the Broadway staging of the Mel Brooks-Susan Stroman hit, will repeat his role in Los Angeles. The L.A. Carmen Ghia has also been announced: Josh Prince will play the swishy role of DeBris' assistant.
The Broadway roles of Max and Leo are currently played by Brad Oscar and Roger Bart, respectively. There is no talk of Short or Alexander coming to Broadway. As late as the week of April 15, Alexander said on NBC's "Today" he has a family in Los Angeles and it's not his wish to be away from them. Short has voiced the same concerns in the past.
Performances continue at Broadway's St. James Theatre, a second national tour will launch in Boston June 17, and a Toronto company — the fourth in North America — starts in November.
Charting the casting changes/announcements in the three Producers companies requires a wall-sized map. Brad Oscar, lauded for his work on Broadway first in the role of Franz Liebkind (for which he was Tony-nommed), then as Max, will leave the Broadway company April 27 to star with Andy Taylor (as Leo) in the second national troupe. Stadlen joins the Broadway company April 29.
Roger Bart's last Broadway performance as Leo Bloom is May 18. He goes off to film the remake of "The Stepford Wives" with Nicole Kidman. Don Stephenson comes to Broadway to play Leo May 20.
Tony Award-winner Gary Beach will leave the Broadway role of Roger DeBris April 24 to "Keep it Gay" in L.A. as DeBris opposite Alexander and Martin Short until Sept. 30, when he is scheduled to return to the Broadway cast.
The current Franz Liebkind, John Treacy Egan, trades the lederhosen for a dress when he takes over the role of Roger DeBris April 25.
Peter Samuel (Parade, Les Miserables) will join the company to temporarily take over the part of Franz Liebkind April 25-Sept. 28.
Tony-winner Cady Huffman (the one original principal cast member in her original role) remains on Broadway until the fall.
Brad Musgrove (who followed Bart and Sam Harris in the role of Carmen Ghia) also remains on Broadway.
The second national tour launching June 17 at the Colonial Theatre in Boston also features Rich Affannato as Carmen Ghia, Ida Leigh Curtis as Ulla, Bill Nolte as Franz Liebkind and from the first national tour, Lee Roy Reams as Roger DeBris.
Brad Oscar is said to be with the tour only through Nov. 30.
The Producers swept the 2001 Tony Awards, receiving the most awards in Broadway history, including Best Musical , Best Book of a Musical (Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan), Best Original Score (Mel Brooks), Best Scenic Design (Robin Wagner), Best Costume Design (William Ivey Long), Best Lighting Design (Peter Kaczorowski), Best Orchestrations (Doug Besterman), Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical (Susan Stroman).