Next month, there will be two key cast changes in Mel Brooks’ multi award-winning musical comedy The Producers at the West End’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. From 29 August 2005, Don Gallagher will take over as cross-dressing director Roger De Bris with Stephen Matthews as his camp assistant Carmen Ghia, the roles created in the London production by, respectively, Olivier Award winner Conleth Hill and James Dreyfus.

Remaining members of the original London cast include Leigh Zimmerman as Ulla and Nicolas Colicos as Franz Liebkind. Fred Applegate and John Gordon Sinclair (pictured), who started jointly on 25 April (See News, 6 Apr 2005), will continue to head the company as washed-up theatre producer Max Bialystock and his timid accountant Leo Bloom, who together cook up a scheme to make a fortune by presenting a sure-fire flop called "Springtime for Hitler".

Following the The Producers’ success on Broadway – where it premiered in 2001 and scooped no fewer than 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Lane – the London production has collected the full sweep of major Best Musical prizes at the Evening Standard, Laurence Olivier, Critics’ Circle and Whatsonstage.com’s own Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. It opened at Drury Lane on 9 November 2004 (previews from 22 October) and is currently taking bookings up to 1 April 2006

The cast, from next month, will also include Will Barratt, Hadrian Delacey, Jeremy Finch, Kate Graham, Amanda Minihan, Sherrie Pennington, Caroline Barnes, Leigh Constantine, Heather Douglas, Candice Evans, Christian Gibson, Kelly Homewood, David Hulston, Luke Jackson, James Le Feuvre, Rachel McDowall, Helen Otway, Gavin Staplehurst, Luzahnn Taylor, Ben Tribe and Desi Valentine. The Producers has music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, with a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan. It’s directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman and designed by Robin Wagner.


Meanwhile, Saturday Night Fever is launching a new UK tour, featuring Shaun Williamson, best known to TV viewers for his nine years as the hapless Barry Evans in the BBC soap EastEnders, which he left when his character was pushed off a cliff. Last year, Williamson made his West End debut playing the role of Monty the DJ in the screen-to-stage disco musical (See News, 8 Apr 2004). The tour cast will also feature Rebecca Dent and Caroline Graham from TV’s Musicality.

The West End production will continue at the Apollo Victoria, where it’s currently booking until 29 April 2006, while the separate tour opens 16 September 2005 at Manchester Opera House and continues, until 18 February 2006, to Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Darlington, Liverpool, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Norwich, Nottingham, Brighton, Belfast and Glasgow with further dates to be announced.

The stage production of Saturday Night Fever had its world premiere at the West End's London Palladium in May 1998, marking the 21st anniversary of the release of the 1977 hit film, starring John Travolta, which effectively defined the disco age. Adapted for the stage by the film's producer Robert Stigwood, the musical features legendary Bee Gees songs from the Grammy Award-winning motion picture soundtrack, including "Staying Alive", "Night Fever", "Jive Talkin'" and "How Deep is Your Love" as well as two songs - "Immortality" and "First and Last" - written especially for the stage production by the brothers Gibb.

- by Terri Paddock