The Producers (musical): Wikis


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The Producers
Original Broadway Playbill
Music Mel Brooks
Lyrics Mel Brooks
Book Mel Brooks
Thomas Meehan
Basis Mel Brooks's 1968 film
The Producers
Productions 2001 Broadway
2002 U.S. National tour
2004 West End
2007 UK Tour
International productions
Awards Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Book
Tony Award for Best Score
Drama Desk Outstanding New Musical
Drama Desk Outstanding Book
New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical
Olivier Award for Best New Musical

The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 film of the same name, with lyrics by Brooks and music by Brooks and Glen Kelly. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show is accessible to a wide range of audiences, and draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis, and many show business in-jokes.

The original production opened on Broadway on April 19, 2001, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. It spawned a successful London production, running for three years, national tours, many productions internationally and a 2005 film version.



David Geffen persuaded Mel Brooks to turn his movie into a stage musical. When Brooks met with Jerry Herman to discuss their working together, Herman declined, telling Brooks that he should do the job himself, as he was a good songwriter. Brooks then asked Thomas Meehan to join him in writing the book for the stage. Brooks persuaded Mike Ockrent and his wife Susan Stroman to join the creative team as director and choreographer. After Ockrent's death on December 2, 1999, Stroman agreed to continue as both director and choreographer. The last addition to the creative team was Glen Kelly as the musical arranger and supervisor. [1][2]

Plot summary

Act I

New York, 1959. It's the opening of a new Max Bialystock play called "Funny Boy", a musical version of Hamlet ("Opening Night"). Everyone ends up hating it and the show closes after one performance. Max, who was once called the King of Broadway, sings to a crowd of down-and-outs of his past achievements and that he will return to form ("King of Broadway").

The next day, Leo Bloom, a mousy accountant from the firm of Whitehall and Marks, comes to Max's office to audit his books. A bit later, one of Max's "investors" arrives, however, and Max tells Leo to go wait in the bathroom until she leaves. The investor is a little old lady who constantly repeats the phrase "Hold Me, Touch Me". She starts playing a sex game with Max ("the virgin milkmaid and the well-hung stableboy"). After a few minutes, Max interrupts the game and persuades her to give him a check to be invested in his next play (which he hasn't yet produced and calls "Cash"). Leo comes out of the bathroom and reveals his lifelong dream to Max: he's always wanted to be a Broadway producer. After a serious panic attack when Max touches his blue blanket, Leo calms down enough to give Max the news that he has found an accounting error in his books: Max raised $100,000 for "Funny Boy", but the play only cost $98,000. There's $2,000 unaccounted for. Max begs Leo to cook the books. "Look at me," he pleads: once the King of Broadway, now reduced to romancing little old ladies to back him and wearing cardboard belts. Leo reluctantly agrees and returns to Max's books. After some calculations, he realizes that "under the right circumstances, a producer could actually make more money with a flop than he can with a hit." Max sits up, an idea forming in his unscrupulous head.

Leo explains. "The IRS isn't interested in the show that flopped. You could've raised a million dollars, put on your $100,000 flop, and kept the rest!" Max proposes the ultimate scheme:

Step 1: We find the worst play ever written. Step 2: We hire the worst director in town. Step 3: We raise two million dollars...One for me, one for you. There's a lot of little old ladies out there! Step 4: We hire the worst actors in New York and open on Broadway and before you can say Step 5, we close on Broadway, take our two million, and go to Rio.

However, Leo refuses to help Max with his scheme and returns to Whitehall and Marks, even after much pleading ("We Can Do It"). When he arrives at work six minutes late, his horrid boss, Mr. Marks, reminds him that he is a nobody, a P.A. (Public Accountant), whereas Marks is a CPA (Certified Public Accountant): a rank a "miserable little worm like [Leo] could never hope to achieve." While he and his miserable co-workers slave over accounts, Leo daydreams of becoming a Broadway producer ("I Wanna Be a Producer"). He realizes that his job is terrible, quits his job, defies Mr. Marks, and returns to Max ("We Can Do It - Reprise").

The next day, they look for the worst play ever written without much luck. Finally, Max finds the sure-fire flop: Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden written by Franz Liebkind. They go to the playwright's home in Greenwich Village to get the rights to the play. Ex-Nazi Franz is on the roof of his tenement with his pigeons: Otto, Bertha, Heinz, Heidi, Wolfgang, and Adolf (named after the Fuhrer himself), reminiscing about the grand old days( "In Old Bavaria"). Leo and Max listen to Franz rave; they get him to sign their contract by joining him in singing Adolf Hitler's favourite tune ("Der Guten Tag Hop Clop"), and by reciting the Siegfried Oath, promising never to dishonor "the spirit and the memory of Adolf Elizabeth Hitler."

Leo and Max then go to the townhouse of Roger De Bris, the worst director in New York and a flamboyant homosexual to boot. At first, Roger and his "common law-assistant" Carmen Ghia decline the offer to direct because of the serious subject matter. Shows should be happier, blithe, bonny... gay, Roger avers ("Keep It Gay"). Finally, after much persuading (and Tony-name dropping), Roger agrees to do it, but only if the ending is changed so the Germans end up winning World War II. A celebratory conga line ensues. Leo and Max return to the office to meet a Swedish bombshell who wants to audition for their next play. Her name is Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yansen Tallen Hallen Svaden Swanson. That's her first name; Ulla for short. She auditions for them ("When You've Got It, Flaunt It"). Bialystock and Bloom are floored, to say the least. They hire her to be their secretary/receptionist. Max then goes off to raise two million dollars for "Springtime for Hitler" by calling on all the little old ladies in New York ("Along Came Bialy"). Finally, after seducing every willing little old lady in the greater Broadway area, Max has raised the two million ("Act I Finale").

Act II

Scene from the London version of "the Producers", Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, April 2006

Leo and Ulla are left alone for a little while in Max's redecorated office (redecorated by Ulla during the intermission; See Photo right) and they start to fall in love ("That Face"). Leo, who has always decided to stay away from any relationship, breaks his own rule and starts to go out with Ulla. Max walks in on them at the end of the song and sings the reprise when he sees the perfect form of Ulla's covered behind ("That Face (Reprise)").

The auditions for finding a terrible Hitler go unsuccessfully. One terrible actor after another is shooed away by Roger: Jack Lepidus, who starts singing "A Wand'ring Minstrel I" from The Mikado too high; and Donald Dinsmore, who danced to The Little Wooden Boy before he gets a chance to sing. Finally, Franz is outraged by Jason Green's rendition of "Haben Sie Gehört Das Deutsche Band" and makes the statement that the Fuhrer wasn't a "mousy little mama's boy"; the Fuhrer was butch. He performs his own jazzy version of the song and he is given the part by Max. Opening night for "Springtime for Hitler" arrives ("It's Bad Luck to Say Good Luck on Opening Night") and everyone is ready, until Franz falls down the stairs and breaks his leg. Roger is the only one who knows the part of Hitler and he rushes to the dressing room to get ready.

The curtain rises, and Max and Leo watch their failure unfold ("Springtime for Hitler"). Unfortunately, Roger's performance is so campy and outrageous, the audience mistakes it for satire and the show becomes the talk of the town.

Back at the office, Max and Leo are near-suicidal ("Where Did We Go Right?"). Roger and Carmen come to congratulate the Producers of the new smash, only to find them fighting over the accounting books in a way that looks like anal sex. Just then, Franz bursts in, outraged by Roger's portrayal of his beloved Führer and firing a pistol at them. He claims that they all made a fool out of Hitler, though Roger and Carmen respond that he "didn't need their help." Max convinces Franz to shoot the actors because they were the ones who made fun of Hitler, but Leo objects to it, saying that actors are human beings, not animals. The police hear the commotion and arrive, taking away Franz (who breaks his other leg after trying to escape), Max and the accounting books. However, Leo hides and Ulla finds him and convinces him to take the two million dollars and run off to Rio as Max had planned.

In prison, Max receives a postcard from Leo and feels "Betrayed" and, in his big eleven o'clock number, recounts the whole show (including intermission). At his trial Max is found "incredibly guilty", but then Leo and Ulla arrive and tell the judge that Max is a good man who would never hurt anyone ("'Til Him"). The judge is touched by this and decides not to separate the two, instead sending both (plus Franz) to Sing Sing prison for 5 years. In prison, they write a new musical entitled "Prisoners of Love" which goes to Broadway ("Prisoners of Love") (starring the stars of Springtime, Roger, and Ulla) when they are pardoned by the Governor. Leo and Max continue to produce Broadway musicals and, at the end, the two fully-fledged kings of Broadway walk off into the sunset ("Leo & Max"). After the curtain call, there is one last song, with the cast telling the audience that they have to leave ("Goodbye").

Differences between the 1968 film and stage musical

Although the musical has many scenes and jokes taken from the film, there are still many differences. The original film was set in the present day of its year of release, 1968. The musical was set in 1959. Consequently the character Lorenzo St. Dubois (LSD), a hippie who played Hitler in the 1968 movie, does not appear in the 2001 musical. In the original film, Max & Leo seek out to procure $1,000,000 to produce their show; in the musical, it has become $2,000,000 ("1 for me, 1 for you. There's a lotta little old ladies out there!"). Ulla has a much larger role in the musical, and is a more three-dimensional character than the seemingly mindless bimbo of the 1968 movie. Even the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind is portrayed more sympathetically, and comes to a happier ending than his 1968 counterpart. Overall, the musical is much more upbeat than the original film, which was a darker comedy, though with a happy ending.

Musical numbers

Act I
  • Overture - Orchestra
  • Opening Night - Usherettes and Company
  • The King of Broadway - Max and Company
  • We Can Do It - Max and Leo
  • I Wanna Be a Producer - Leo, Showgirls and Accountants
  • We Can Do It (Reprise) - Leo and Max
  • I Wanna Be a Producer (Reprise) - Leo and Max
  • In Old Bavaria - Franz
  • Der Gueten Tag Hop-Clop - Franz, Leo and Max
  • Keep It Gay - Roger, Carmen, Max, Leo, Production team and Company
  • When You've Got It, Flaunt It - Ulla
  • Along Came Bialy - Max and Company
  • Act I Finale - Max, Leo, Ulla, Franz, Roger, Carmen, Production team and Company
Act II
  • That Face- Leo and Ulla
  • That Face (Reprise)- Leo and Max
  • Haben Sie gehört das deutsche Band? - Franz
  • Opening Night (Reprise) - Usherettes
  • You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night - Roger, Carmen, Franz, Leo and Max
  • Springtime for Hitler (part 1) - Lead Tenor Stormtrooper, Barvarian Peasants, Tapping Brown-shirts, Showgirls, Ulla and Company
  • Heil myself - Roger, Ulla, Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt
  • Springtime for Hitler (part 2) - Roger, Ulla and Company
  • Where Did We Go Right? - Leo and Max
  • That Face (Reprise 2) - Ulla and Leo
  • Betrayed - Max
  • 'Til Him - Leo, Max and Little old Ladies
  • Prisoners of Love - Roger, Ulla and Company
  • Leo and Max - Max, Leo and Company
  • Goodbye! - All

Characters and original Broadway cast

Broadway replacements included Henry Goodman and Steven Weber in Lane and Broderick's respective roles, and the loss of the original stars had a detrimental effect on the success of the production, prompting the return of Lane and Broderick for another run, from December 30, 2003 until April 4, 2004. Other "Max" performers on Broadway included Tony Danza, John Treacy Egan, Richard Kind, Brad Oscar, and Lewis J. Stadlen. "Leo" actors included Don Stephenson, Roger Bart, Hunter Foster and Alan Ruck.



The production opened at the St. James Theatre on April 19, 2001 and ran for 2,502 performances, closing on April 22, 2007. The director and choreographer was Susan Stroman. The show originally starred Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock (who reprised that role during the show's first few months on London's West End) and Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom. It won 12 Tony Awards, breaking the record held for 37 years by Hello, Dolly! which had won 10.

After the opening, The Producers broke the record for the largest single day box-office gross in theatre history, taking in more than $3 million. It then broke its own record in 2003 when Broderick and Lane's return went on sale, with over $3.5 million in single day ticket sales.

US Tour

Beginning in September 2002 there were two touring companies that played 74 cities in the United States grossing over $214 million.[3] The 1st National touring company starred Lewis J. Stadlen and Don Stephenson. When the tour came to Los Angeles, Stadlen and Stephenson were replaced by Jason Alexander and Martin Short for the duration of the show's run in that city.


The Producers at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

The London production of the musical got off to a complicated start with the late withdrawal of Richard Dreyfuss shortly before its opening. However, these problems were quickly forgotten after the announcement that Nathan Lane, the creator of the role in the New York production, would be stepping in for a limited run.

The Producers opened in London's West End at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on November 9, 2004 and closed on January 6, 2007. In addition to Lane, the production featured Lee Evans as Leo Bloom (Lane and Evans had worked together in the 1997 movie MouseHunt), Leigh Zimmerman as Ulla, Conleth Hill as Roger De Bris and James Dreyfus as Carmen Ghia. Franz Liebkind was played by Nicolas Colicos. The show enjoyed excellent box office success as it had in New York. Despite the later departure of Lane from the show, it continued to enjoy strong sales. Max Bialystock was later played by Brad Oscar, Fred Applegate and Cory English. Leo Bloom was later played by John Gordon Sinclair and Reece Shearsmith.

UK tour

The tour opened in Manchester for 3 months, commencing 19 February 2007. Peter Kay was cast in the role of Roger De Bris, with Cory English and John Gordon Sinclair reprising their roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, respectively. For the majority of the UK tour, running through until early 2008, Joe Pasquale took over the role of Leo Bloom and Russ Abbot played Roger DeBris. The tour's dates at the Bristol Hippodrome were canceled due to reported poor ticket sales.

European Amateur premiere

The first European amateur company to stage The Producers was the Act Too Group. It ran from the 16th - 20th of September 2008 at The Hawth Theatre, Crawley, England. Directed by Lance Milton, it starred Jack Lane as Max Bialystock and Nick Pritchard as Leo Bloom.

U.S. productions

  • The Las Vegas, Nevada production opened at Paris Casino on February 9, 2007 and closed on February 9, 2008. It starred Brad Oscar as Bialystock, Larry Raben as Bloom and Leigh Zimmerman as Ulla, with David Hasselhoff receiving top billing as Roger De Bris. The production was a 90-minute version.[4]
  • In February, 2009, The Producers was a part of the 50th Anniversary Season of Diablo Light Opera Company and the San Francisco East Bay Premiere of the show. It starred Ginny Wehrmeister as Ulla, Ryan Drummond as Leo, and Marcus Klinger as Max. This production received the 2009 Shellie Award for Best Production, as well as Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor awards for Drummond and Klinger. Subsequently, Drummond, Klinger, and the Production received nominations for the 2009 Bay Area Theatre Critic Circle Award.

International productions

The Producers has also been presented professionally in many cities around the world, including Toronto, Berlin, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Christchurch, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Copenhagen, Milan, Budapest, Madrid, Halifax, Mexico City, Prague, Stockholm, Bratislava, Vienna, Helsinki, Athens, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Caracas, Portugal, Gothenborg and Moscow.[6]

It has been translated into German, Hebrew, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Danish, Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Swedish, Slovak, Finnish, Greek, Portuguese, and Russian.


  • A Bratislava, Slovakia production openned in September 19, 2008 at the Istropolis Theatre. Starring Andrej Hryc/Marián Slovák (Max), Csongor Kassai/Tomáš Horváth (Leo), Kristína Farkašová/Eva Sakálová (Ulla), Štefan Skrúcaný/Roman Fedér (Roger), Viktor Horján/Štefan Martinovič (Carmen Gia), Marián Labuda sr./Michal Rovňák (Franz).
  • A Swedish version opened in Stockholm at the China Theatre on September 19, 2008. The actors where Claes Malmberg (Max), Kim Sulocki (Leo), Christine Meltzer (Ulla), Magnus Härenstam (Roger), Claes Månsson (Franz) and Ola Forssmed (Carmen). Later, the show opened in Gothenborg, at the Lorensbergstheater. Everyone from the Stockholm cast where still in the show except for Meltzer. The role off Ulla was instead played by Pernilla Wahlgren in the fall of 2009 and Sofie Lindberg in the spring of 2010.
  • A production in Athens, Greece opened in October 2007 starring Paulos Haikalis (Max), Antonis Loudaros (Leo), Viky Kagia (Ulla), Apostolos Gkletsos (Franz), Giannis Vouros (Roger)and Pantelis Kanarakis (Carmen).[7]
  • Copenhagen, Denmark's production premiered at Det Ny Teater on January 26, 2006. The Danish language production starring Preben Kristensen as Bialystock and Mads Knarreborg as Bloom. The run for the musical was extended twice.
  • A Milan, Italy production opened at Teatro della Luna on January 27, 2006. It starred Enzo Iacchetti as Bialystock, Gianluca Guidi as Leo Bloom, and Simona Samarelli as Ulla.
  • A Budapest, Hungary production premiered at Theatre Madách (Madách Színház) on June 2, 2006. Péter Haumann, János Gálvölgyi, and Béla Szerednyei alternate as Max Bialystock; Sándor Nagy, Dávid Sándor, and Vajk Szente alternate as Leo Bloom; and Nikolett Gallusz, Judit Ladinek and Szonja Oroszlán alternate as Ulla.
  • A Madrid, Spain production played at Teatro Coliseum from September 14, 2006 to May 6, 2007. It starred Santiago Segura as Bialystock, José Mota as Bloom, and Dulcinea Juárez as Ulla.
  • A German-language Viennese production ran at the Ronacher theatre from June 30, 2008 till February 22, 2009 with Cornelius Obonya as Bialystock, Andreas Bieber as Bloom, Bettina Moench as Ulla and Herbert Steinboeck as Liebkind.[8]. After closing in Vienna the show is scheduled to reopen in Berlin at the Admiralspalast by mid-May with the same cast.
  • A Portuguese production opened in November 2008 in Linda-a-Velha.
  • A Russian production opened in Moscow on April 23, 2009.
  • A production opened in Berlin, Germany, in May 2009.[6]
  • The Czech version is running in Karlin Musical Theatre in Prague.
  • A production opened in Finland on August 30, 2007. It was performed in Helsinki City Theatre (Helsingin kaupunginteatteri). The production closed on May 24, 2008.[9]

The Americas

  • The Rio de Janeiro, Brazil production has the same cast as the São Paulo, and debuted on April 2008 in the theatre house Vivo Rio.
  • The Venezuelan production starts on April 12, 2008 at the "Aula Magna" of the UCV (Central University of Venezuela), at Caracas, the stars: Roque Valero as Leo Bloom, Armando Cabrera as Max Bialystock, and Fabiola Colmenares as Ulla.
  • The Monterrey, México production was produced by MUSICOLOGY ENTERTREINMENT, and ran at Teatro de las Bellas Artes del Centro Convex from April 1, 2009, to May 3, 2009. It starred Mauricio Herrera as Bialystock, Jose Andres Mujica as Bloom and Renan Moreno as Roger De Bris.

Asia and Oceania

  • A Japanese-language production ran in Tokyo at Aoyama Theatre in August 13–31 2005. It returned for a second run at Tokyo International Forum in February 2008. It starred Yoshihiko Inohara as Bialystock and Hiroshi Nagano as Bloom. Both were members of the popular idol group, V6.
  • The Australian run starred Reg Livermore as Bialystock and Tom Burlinson as Bloom. Television veteran Bert Newton played Liebkind. It also featured Chloe Dallimore as Ulla and Tony Sheldon as Roger DeBris. Dallimore's understudy was Deborah Krizak, who played the role of Ulla during several performances. There were two USA performers in the cast, Stephany R. Simonelli and Matt Young. The production played in Melbourne for eight months, Brisbane for six weeks and for six months in Sydney.
  • The New Zealand production played at the Court Theatre in Christchurch from November 24, 2007 to February 16, 2008, directed by Sandra Rasmussen. It starred Steven Ray as Bialystock, Cameron Douglas as Bloom, Sia Trokenheim as Ulla, Jon Pheloung as Franz Liebkind and Keith Adams as Roger De Bris.

Movie adaptation

In 2005, the musical was adapted into a musical film, becoming a movie based on a musical based on a movie about a musical. It was directed by Stroman and starred most of the original Broadway cast, except for Brad Oscar (who was unable to reprise the role of Franz because he had signed on to play Max on Broadway and instead had a brief cameo as the cab driver) and Huffman. Their roles were played by Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman, respectively. The songs "King of Broadway", "In Old Bavaria" and "Where Did We Go Right?" were not in the theatrical cut of the movie, although "King of Broadway" and "In Old Bavaria" appeared on the DVD as deleted scenes. Instead, two original songs, "You'll Find Your Happiness in Rio" and "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" were added to the film. It opened on December 16, 2005 and received mixed reviews from critics.

Popular culture

On the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Producers was featured in almost every episode of season four. Larry David was offered the part of Max Bialystock by Mel Brooks, the part of Leo Bloom was occupied by Ben Stiller. When David and Stiller have a falling out, Stiller gets replaced by David Schwimmer. The story took a unique turn when Larry David's attempt to play the part is marred by his missing lines. However, he makes up some ad-lib comedy that keeps the audience laughing. In a "life imitating art" twist, it's revealed that Brooks cast David specifically so he would fail, end the show and "free" Brooks of its success. Brooks is seen at the theater bar with real-life wife, Anne Bancroft, both laughing at how bad David is and they no longer have to travel to every city for a premiere. Of course, David ends up being a hit and Mel leads Anne out, both weakly muttering "no way out..." This was Bancroft's final filmed appearance before her death.

In an episode of House, when Gregory House and James Wilson finish a job interview, as soon as the young lady they were interviewing leaves, Dr. Wilson quotes the musical by exclaiming "That's our Hitler!"

Awards and nominations

At the 2001 Tony Awards, The Producers won twelve out of the fifteen nominations it received, becoming one of the few musicals to win in every category for which it was nominated (it received two nominations in the category for leading actor and three in the category for featured actor). In 2009, the Broadway production of Billy Elliot the Musical received 15 Tony Award nominations, tied with The Producers for the most nominations ever received by a single show.

Tony Awards

Drama Desk Awards

  • Outstanding New Musical (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Book of a Musical (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Musical - Nathan Lane (WINNER); Matthew Broderick (nominee)
  • Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical - Gary Beach (WINNER); Roger Bart (nominee)
  • Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Choreography (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Orchestrations (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Lyrics (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Set Design of a Musical (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Costume Design (WINNER)
  • Outstanding Lighting Design (nominee)

New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical of the season


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote


  • Max: We may be sitting down, but we're giving you a standing ovation!


  • Judge: it pains me to break up such a beautiful friendship, so I won't! Five years in the State Penitentiary at Sing Sing!

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