30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #19 - THE PRODUCERS
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special focus on the musical to win more Tony Awards in a single night than any other, THE PRODUCERS.
We Can Do It
Based on one of the most beloved and hilarious theatre-themed film comedies of all time, legendary funnyman Mel Brooks brought his trademark brand of outrageous humor and zany, guffaw-worthy ideology to the Great White Way at long last with the screen-to-stage adaptation of THE PRODUCERS in 2001 and it instantly became the smash hit of the new century. Nominated for 15 Tony Awards - a record number at the time, since matched by BILLY ELLIOT - the musical took home 12 of the top honors of the evening, including Best Musical and two for Brooks, Best Book (shared with Thomas Meehan) and Best Original Score Of A Musical. Then, there were the performers themselves: Nathan Lane gave a tour de force central turn as shady producer Max Bialystock, mining both the Golden Age tradition and a more modern comedic sensibility, while Matthew Broderick commandingly and convincingly portrayed the neurotic nebbish known as Leo Bloom. While only one could take home the trophy - it was Lane, unsurprisingly - the combined talents of the two along with thier palpable rapport added immeasurably to the proceedings and proved to be one of a handful of lightning-in-a-bottle elements of the original production as assuredly directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.
Besides Lane and Broderick - who also co-hosted that year's Tony Awards telecast - the other major parts in THE PRODUCERS were also ably abetted by some of Broadway's best, many of whom had to share the Best Featured Actor In A Musical category - that is: Gary Beach, Roger Bart and Brad Oscar, with Beach winning the prize. Then, were was Ulla - the triple-threat blonde bombshell expertly cast and unforgettably embodied by Cady Huffman, who took home Best Featured Actress In A Musical for her work in the show. To add to all of that, the mesmerizing mise en scene concocted by stalwart designers Robin Wagner, William Ivey Long and Peter Kaczorowski - on sets, costumes and lighting, respectively - was handsomely rewarded, as well.
Yet, it is impossible to strike gold twice - or nearly so - and both the subsequent 2005 feature film adaptation of the musical, also directed by Stroman, and Brooks's follow-up stage piece, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, failed to capture the same lynchpin excitement and provide the cultural touchstone of THE PRODUCERS onstage. But, having ended up the Tony champion of all time, they certainly proved the song "We Can Do It" more than merely accurate.
So, now, let's look at some of the most memorable Tony Award-related moments as they pertain to THE PRODUCERS.
First up, here is the splashy Tony Awards performance by the cast of THE PRODUCERS.
Next, see Nathan Lane's acceptance speech.
Now, witness Cady Huffman's win.
Lastly, Gary Beach wins Best Featured Actor In A Musical.
As a special bonus, check out the trailer for the 2005 film adaptation.
So, what exactly is it about THE PRODUCERS that makes it a modern day classic in your humble estimation? Is it the flawless original cast? The endlessly amusing score? The dazzling original production? Whatever made it the hit of the century has not been repeated since, that's for sure! With BLAZING SADDLES: THE MUSICAL on the horizon, we could see one more major Mel Brooks coup on Broadway soon, though!