Injured Lane Pulls Out of Remaining Producers DatesDate: 29 December 2004
The so-called ‘curse’ of Max Bialystock has struck again. When Hollywood’s Richard Dreyfuss dramatically withdrew, citing shoulder injuries, just four days before preview performances began for the London production of The Producers (See News, 19 Oct 2004), Nathan Lane (pictured left with co-star Lee Evans) stepped back into the role that he originated to Tony Award-winning success on Broadway.
Lane’s contract was only ever meant to be for 11 weeks - as he has to return to the US to prepare for the film version of Mel Brooks’ hit musical comedy, which begins shooting at the end of February - but that limited run has now been cut shorter still. Producers of The Producers have confirmed that the actor – who missed his first London appearance on 16 December when Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were reportedly in attendance and who has been absent on a day-by-day basis since last week – has been forced to pull out of all of his remaining performances at the West End’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
A statement explained: “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 8 January.” It’s estimated that Lane will need six weeks to recover from the condition.
As previously announced (See News, 3 Dec 2004), from 10 January, the part of Bialystock, currently being played by understudy Cory English, will be taken over by American Brad Oscar. In the New York production of The Producers, Oscar originally played Nazi Franz Liebkind, for which he was Tony-nominated, and covered Lane in the role of Bialystock. When Briton Henry Goodman was sacked as Lane’s successor in New York (See News, 16 Apr 2002), Oscar stepped in to the lead full time. He subsequently played Bialystock in the US tour.
Based on Brooks' 1968 film classic and set in New York in 1959, The Producers revolves around washed-up theatre producer Bialystock who, with his timid accountant Leo Bloom, cooks up a scheme to make a fortune by presenting a sure-fire flop called "Springtime for Hitler".
The Producers opened on Broadway in 2001 and, with its original stars Lane and Matthew Broderick as Bialystock and Bloom, went on to become the hottest, and most expensive, ticket in town and to sweep the board at that year's Tony Awards, scooping 12 prizes including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Lane.
Both Lane and Evans have been nominated for Best Actor in a Musical in the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards, while fellow cast members Leigh Zimmerman and Conleth Hill have been nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, respectively (click here to vote now). Others in the UK cast include Nicolas Colicos (as Franz Liebkind) and James Dreyfus (Carmen Ghia).
The Producers has music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, with a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan. The London production – which opened at the Theatre Royal on 9 November 2004 (previews from 22 October) and is currently booking up to October 2005 - reunites director and choreographer Susan Stroman with the rest of the original Broadway creative team. Scenic design is by Robin Wagner, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski, sound by Steve C Kennedy and orchestration by Doug Besterman.
- by Terri Paddock