The Producers

Previewed 22 October 2004, Opened 9 November 2004, Closed 6 January 2007 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Mel Brooks' Multi-Award Winning HIT Broadway comedy musical The Producers in London

The story of down-on-his-luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock and his mousy accountant, Leo Bloom. Together, they hatch the ultimate theatrical scam: to raise more money than they need to produce a sure-fire Broadway disaster... and then to pocket the left-over cash when the show flops. Their guaranteed-to-fail fiasco? Springtime for Hitler: The Musical.

WINNER! BEST MUSICAL! x 3! - Evening Standard Theatre Awards - Critics' Circle Theatre Awards - Laurence Olivier Awards

Three years ago, Mel Brooks was finally persuaded to adapt The Producers, the Academy Award-winning film, for the Broadway musical stage. The result was beyond the dreams of Mel Brooks and multi award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman as the musical became the biggest ever hit in Broadway history, sweeping up a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. This stage musical has music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, and book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan.

The original cast featured Nathan Lane as 'Max Bialystock' (from Friday 22 October 2004 to Friday 24 December 2004) - Christmas Day Saturday 25 December no performances - Cory English as 'Max Bialystock' (from Monday 27 December 2004 to Saturday 8 January 2005), Lee Evans as 'Leo Bloom', Nicolas Colicos as 'Franz Liebkind', James Dreyfus as 'Carmen Ghia', Conleth Hill as 'Roger De Bris', and Leigh Zimmerman as 'Ulla', with Simon Adkins, Kenneth Avery-Clark, Suzanne Bullock, Stephen Carlile, Hadrian Delacey, Lisa Donmall, James Le Feuvre, Kate Graham, Kelly Homewood, Rachel McDowell, Amanda Minihan, Sherrie Pennington, Gavin Staplehurst, Luzahn Taylor, Emma Tunmore, Desi Valentine, Caroline Barnes, Leigh Constantine, Christian Gibson, James Gray, and David Hulston.

The cast from Monday 10 January 2005 to Saturday 23 April 2005 featured Brad Oscar as 'Max Bialystock', and John Gordon Sinclair as 'Leo Bloom', with Nicolas Colicos as 'Franz Liebkind', James Dreyfus as 'Carmen Ghia', Conleth Hill as 'Roger De Bris', and Leigh Zimmerman as 'Ulla'.

The cast from Monday 25 April 2005 to Saturday 27 August 2005 featured Fred Applegate as 'Max Bialystock', John Gordon Sinclair as 'Leo Bloom', with Nicolas Colicos as 'Franz Liebkind', James Dreyfus as 'Carmen Ghia', Conleth Hill as 'Roger De Bris', and Leigh Zimmerman as 'Ulla'.

The cast from Monday 29 August 2005 to Saturday 18 March 2006 featured Fred Applegate as 'Max Bialystock', and John Gordon Sinclair as 'Leo Bloom', with Nicolas Colicos as 'Franz Liebkind', Stephen Matthews as 'Carmen Ghia', Don Gallagher as 'Roger De Bris', and Leigh Zimmerman as 'Ulla'.

The cast from Monday 20 March 2006 to Saturday 6 January 2007 featured Corey English as 'Max Bialystock', and Reece Shearsmith as 'Leo Bloom', with Nicolas Colicos as 'Franz Liebkind', Stephen Matthews as 'Carmen Ghia', Don Gallagher as 'Roger De Bris', and Rachel McDowall as 'Ulla'.

CASTING: Richard Dreyfuss was originally scheduled to star as 'Max Bialystock' in what would have been his London West End musical debut but unfortunately, just days before the first public preview was due, he withdrew from the production for health reasons. A spokesperson said that a recurring shoulder injury and the effects of surgery to a herniated disc earlier in the year had made it difficult for Richard Dreyfuss to fulfill the physically demanding role. Nathan Lane, who won the Tony Award for 'Best Actor in a Musical' for originating the role on Broadway, stepped in, and previews went ahead as scheduled. This marked Nathan Lane's West End debut.

CASTING: Nathan Lane, who was scheduled to play the role of 'Max Bialystock' up to Saturday 8 January 2005, but unfortunately injury caused him to miss a number of performances during December 2004. Straight after the Christmas break it was announced that Nathan Lane had withdrawn from the production with immediate effect. A spokesman said: "Suffering from two newly slipped discs, Nathan Lane and the producers of The Producers have been advised that he should abstain from any further performances for the remainder of his London contract, due to finish on January 8." Cory English took over as 'Max Bialystock' for two weeks.

Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with sets by Robin Wagner, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski, and sound by Steve C Kennedy.

There are few people who can reduce an audience to tears of helpless laughter more readily than Mel Brooks. Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, The History of the World Part 1, To Be or Not to Be, High Anxiety and Spaceballs: these and many other movies bear the unmistakable stamp of Brooks's unique, crazy and quirky sense of humour.

Lee Evans' West End theatre credits include playing the role of 'Clov' in Matthew Warchus' revival of Samuel Beckett's Endgame at the Albery Theatre in 2004.

Nicolas Colicos' West End stage credits include playing the roles of 'Harrison Howell' in Michael Blakemore's revival of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2001; 'Bill Austin' in the original cast of Phyllida Lloyd's prodution of Catherine Johnson's ABBA musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999; and 'Soldier' / 'Alex' in Steven Pimlott's production of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1990.

Conleth Hill's London stage credits include playing the role of 'Charlie Conlon' in the original cast of Ian McElhinney's production of Marie Jones' Stones in his Pockets at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2000, and transfer to Duke of York's Theatre in 2000, for which he won the Olivier Award for 'Best Actor'.

Leigh Zimmerman's London theatre credits include the leading cast in Susan Stroman's production of the dance show Contact at the Queen's Theatre in 2002; and the role 'Elaine' in Michael Radford's revival of George Axelrod's The Seven Year Itch at the Queen's Theatre in 2000.

John Gordon Sinclair's West End theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Martin' in Stephen Poliakoff's production of his play Sweet Panic at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2003; 'Georg Nowack' in Scot Ellis' revival of the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick musical She Loves Me at the Savoy Theatre in 1994; and 'Peter' and 'Nick' in Simon Gray's production of his comedy The Common Pursuit at the Phoenix Theatre in 1988.

Reece Shearsmith is best known for being part of the television comedy League of Gentlemen which was staged at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2001. His other West End stage credits include the roles of 'Jacques' in David Lan's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2005; and 'Yvan' in the final cast of Matthew Warchus' production of Yasmina Reza's Art at the Whitehall Theatre in 2002.

"Bialystock persuades elderly ladies to invest in his productions by sexually servicing them. The director of Springtime and his associates are grotesque stereotype gays. Hitler sings a ditty about 'hitching up his pants' and conquering France (to rhyme with 'pants'). I don't altogether object to such things in principle. But there is a vital distinction to be drawn between good bad taste and bad bad taste, and much of the bad taste here is plain awful. Try the posters that adorn Bialystock's office, for instance. One is for an old show called The Kidney Stone, the one underneath for a show called This Too Shall Pass... Susan Stroman directs; she is also responsible for the high-voltage choreography." The Sunday Telegraph

"Three years after it stormed Broadway, scooping a record-breaking number of awards, and days after the song and dance about losing leading man Richard Dreyfuss, Mel Brooks's long-awaited, 5.5 million musical comedy The Producers has opened in London. As many of you will remember from Brooks's 1968 film, is a show about showbiz, the story of a shyster-producer, Max Bialystock, who has an unusual band of angels - devilishly randy old ladies with whom he trades favours. In return for his acting out their chosen fantasy, they provide the cash for Max's terrible shows. Bialystock and his accountant, Leo Bloom (sometime stand-up Lee Evans), hatch a failsafe scheme to fill the company coffers. Max will raise the money as usual, but spend just a tiny fraction of it on staging a deliberate megaflop, guaranteed to offend - a Nazi musical entitled Springtime For Hitler, a crazy loveletter to Adolf written by a mad German pigeon-fancier. Despite Max's worst efforts, the show, complete with Nazi stormtroopers goose-stepping in the pattern of a swastika in the style of the great Busby Berkeley, is a stonking great hit. After Dreyfuss left, director choreographer Susan Stroman managed to persuade Nathan Lane, the star of the Broadway production, to step into the role of Bialystock. Lane is fabulous, worth every penny of the 39,000 he's earning every week, which is more than you can say of most Premiership footballers. What's more, to judge from the buckets of sweat pouring down his expressively funny, pug-like face, Lane is working much harder than they do. Lane is Hardy to Evans's Laurel. Both are comedians of genius, wonderful physical performers with flawless comic timing, never failing to land the laughs... The brilliance of the piece stems partly from Brooks's shamelessness. His film famously put the camp into Mein Kampf, but this show is even more outrageous. He recycles some of the oldest jokes in the business. Brooks seizes every opportunity for humour. At one point, two wholly gratuitous ultra-flamboyant characters turn up from nowhere - one half-naked and in the purple headdress of a Cherokee Indian - to join them for a conga round the office... I sailed out of this glorious, hilarious, blissfully funny show, my soul dust-free." The Mail on Sunday

"This musical version of the film creates all kinds of meta-textual fun, the play within a play creating an audience within an audience. Sitting in the Theatre Royal, you become the shocked and dazzled Broadway first-nighters [of Springtime for Hitler]... The film might have gone down in comic history, but the sheer razzle-dazzle of this production realises its vision with spectacle to spare. Robin Wagner's set design is everything you want from a blockbusting musical, from the stylised New York backdrop to the tricks and treats that the set throws up... There are, however problems... It is too long and occasionally plodding, and, despite the effervescence of the cast, not every song is a show stopper." The Sunday Times

The Producers in London at the Drury Lane Theatre previewed from 22 October 2004, opened on 9 November 2004 and closed on 6 January 2007.