Comedian Reece Shearsmith, best known for The League of Gentlemen, will join Corey English in the new cast of Mel Brooks’ multi award-winning musical The Producers at the West End’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane, from 20 March 2006.

Shearsmith - who played Jacques in As You Like It at the Wyndham’s Theatre last summer and has also appeared in Art as well as creating his numerous League characters on television, film, radio and the stage - will star as timid accountant Leo Bloom. He takes over from John Gordon Sinclair, who has been nominated for Best Takeover in a Role in the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards (click here to vote now!). He also follows in the footsteps of another comedian, Lee Evans, who originated the role in the West End production.

English rejoins the cast as unscrupulous Broadway producer Max Bialystock, a role he previously understudied Nathan Lane and Brad Oscar in. He now takes over full-time from current Bialystock, Fred Applegate. Since his first stint in the musical, English has been seen playing Benny Southstreet in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Rachel McDowall, who previously understudied the role of Ulla, will take over from Leigh Zimmerman full-time from March. Other cast members will stay on, including Nicolas Colicos as Franz Liebkind, Don Gallagher as Roger De Bris and Stephen Matthews as Carmen Ghia.

The Producers – which, after its success on Broadway, where it’s also still running, opened in London on 9 November 2004 (previews from 22 October) - is currently booking until 28 October 2006. Amongst its many accolades to date are Best Musical prizes at last year’s Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Olivier Awards.

Based on Brooks' 1968 Oscar-winning film classic and set in New York in 1959, the story revolves around washed-up theatre producer Bialystock who, with his timid accountant Bloom, cooks up a scheme to make a fortune by presenting a sure-fire flop called "Springtime for Hitler". A new film based on the stage musical has recently been released featuring original Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The Producers has music and lyrics by Brooks, with a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan. It’s directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman and designed by Robin Wagner.

- by Caroline Ansdell