Producers musings

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MasterLcZ
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Producers musings#0
Posted: 11/16/03 at 1:42pm
I posted most of this in another thread, but I thought it worthy of giving it is own thread.

I am bemused by the absolute hysteria surrounding the the return of N&M. Individually (Nathan, Matthew and the show itself) don't generate half to half the level of interest that the combination of the three do. I wonder if it is partially due to the fact that this season has (so far) offered so few shows to get REALLY excited over, and is sorely lacking a 100% smash hit (on the order of HAIRSPRAY) that one could feel in previews. Instead we've had a string of musicals that are either interesting misfires, quirky offbeat events, dissapointments and good-but-not-outstanding-shows. As for THE PRODUCERS, it is a good, solid, very entertaining show, which IMHO, is neither as gut-bustingly-laugh-till-your-sides-ache funny as it is reported to be nor as daringly un-PC either. And the score is fitfully servicable without making much of an impression afterwards (only "Till Him" stands out). I'm with Dollypop as someone that has played the CD once or twice, then not much more than that. By contrast, the score to AVENUE Q is far more tuneful, catchier and, yes, funnier (and I play it at least once a day).

But by contrast with this season's musicals (with the exception of Q) THE PRODUCERS seems like SOUTH PACIFIC, with a perfectly constructed, smoothly lean book that runs from one musical number to the next like a speeding train making up lost time. Its cast is not large, but it is filled with sharply defined charecters, all of whom get a chance to perform a show-stopper. It opened at exactly the right time, when Broadway - then dominated by turgid pop-operas- was clearly dying for a brassy comedy musical. And for better or worse, THE PRODUCERS opened the door to the parade of campy, silly, just-having-fun musicals that donimate Broadway now. It's both an overrated phenomena and a show that towers over much of the current crop of tuners.

I can't help wondering if the powers-that-be have set a dangerous precident with the return of the dynamic duo. They are setting themselves up for what is likely to be a mammoth drop afterwards, and I honestly don't feel that Alexander/Short (if they can get them...and for what price?) will be half as potent a combo, nor would Zero Mostel if here were to come back from the grave. They have built themselves a bigger hole for the future. And I don't envy the actors - whoever they are - that have to follow N&M.

"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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re: Producers musings#1
Posted: 11/16/03 at 4:57pm
not every show can generically change casts without the audience caring.

the Producers wants to be Phantom or Les Miz or cats or whatever and have the "show be the star." It really doesn't matter to most folks who is in Phantom or Les Miz, etc....but it DOES matter who is starring in The Producers.

This is not a shame. Broadway has a great tradition of great stars and followings.

I don't understand exactly what you mean when you talk about the producers digging themselves into a hole? What is the problem with them simply casting the show with "stars."

With all due respect, after the extraodinary opening of the Producers, having Lane and Broderick followed by Henry Goodman (is that who it was?) and Steven Weber was simply...

the height of arrogance and poor judgement.
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re: re: Producers musings#2
Posted: 11/16/03 at 7:46pm
"I don't understand exactly what you mean when you talk about the producers digging themselves into a hole? What is the problem with them simply casting the show with "stars.""

Which stars, then? Name the big-name "stars" that could do what Nathan Lane does. (not 'in theory', either). There might actually be future Maxes that might even be as good as Nathan. But they aren't "big stars".

"With all due respect, after the extraodinary opening of the Producers, having Lane and Broderick followed by Henry Goodman (is that who it was?) and Steven Weber was simply...the height of arrogance and poor judgement."

Poor judgement, maybe, but why arrogance? Brooks & Co. had been plugging "the show is the star" line ad infinitum. And considering the Tonys and acclaim the show had won, there was every reason to assume that might be enough to carry them along very nicely.



"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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re: re: re: Producers musings#3
Posted: 11/16/03 at 7:49pm
Saw the show for the 2 nd & last time with Stadlen & Stephenson & enjoyed it just as much. Stadlen handled the part quite well but being compared to Lane is like being compared to God which is unfair

I would rate Lane 10 & Stadlen 8.5 to 9 & Stephenson an 8 to Broderick's 9.5
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re: re: re: re: Producers musings#4
Posted: 11/16/03 at 9:54pm
Whoever you have will be better than the cast just announced for the Australian production (which opens in April), a very mixed bunch indeed. It includes a television personality who is no great actor but is there purely because he can mention the show daily on his national program, and you can't buy that sort of pubicity. Already the advance aparently is not exactly though the roof which is of some concern to the producers who paid bigtime for the Rights. While I love the show I'm not encouraged to see the show here. I think I'll stick to my bootleg videotape (don't ask) of Nathan and Mathew.

I think the show (anywhere) requires star performers and performances. Just who is another question.

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re: re: re: re: re: Producers musings#5
Posted: 11/16/03 at 9:58pm
Master, quite a number of excellent comments in your post. Your intelligence is like an open window of fresh air.

Lane and Broderick, while very enjoyable in these roles, are not of the theatrical firmament that merits the hype surrounding their return.

And I agree that the producers of THE PRODUCERS might well be digging themselves into that hole from whence there is no climbing out.


Cheers, Bulldog.
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re: re: re: re: re: Producers musings#6
Posted: 11/16/03 at 10:03pm
I really do not understand the craziness surrounding this. Yes, Nathan and Matthew are good, and yes, they are partially to thank for the initial success of the show, but are they really THAT much better than anyone else?

I saw the show for the first time last March. I saw Brad Oscar as Max, an understudy for Roger Bart as Leo (I can't recall the full name, I think his first name was Jamie), as well as Gary Beach. I thought the show was amazing, I was thoroughly entertained and impressed throughout, but afterward, couldn't help but wonder if it would be that much better with Lane and Broderick. And I decided that I didn't think it really mattered, I had seen the show, enjoyed it, what difference was it who I saw? I find it amazing the craziness going on to get to see these two.
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re: re: re: re: re: re: Producers musings#7
Posted: 11/16/03 at 10:20pm
Sometimes when understudies appear the whole show is lifted as the supporting players seem to work a little harder.
Why I don't know, but I've witnessed this several times in long runs.
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I agree with you Master. What is so great about N&M from the other performers?
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Nathan and Matthew had that effortless theatrical chemistry that happens so rarely nowadays, I've seen every duo that followed in their shoes and the've all left me wanting, but Short and Alexander were admittedly great fun. And no disrespect to all those other Max and Leo teams or their numerous fans but I for one am tickled pink they'll be back in action.
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum Bring gloom down to the minimum Have faith or pandemonium's Liable to walk upon the scene
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Nathan and Matthew had a love affair (platonic) on and off that stage. They also bring considerable star wattage (nothing wrong with that).

What they produced on that stage was sheer magic and they had the incredible support of Gary Beach, Roger Bart et al.

There are performances I've ranked as 'better'...but I've never seen anything quite like Lane and Broderick on that stage.
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I think some of you folks need to read these posts a bit more carefully.

the way the Producers box office does with "stars" as opposed to without "stars" is actually a matter of fact and not a matter of opinion.

for The Producers to have a run as long as they originally anticipated, it is clear that the public would prefer to see recognizable celebrities in the starring roles. if the production reverts to performers without great celebrity after Lane and Broderick leave, the show will not be breaking any long run records.

The Producers is certainly more in the tradition of musicals of the fifties when Carol Channing replaced Rosalind Russell in Wonderful Town or of the sixties when Broadway had a glorious array of stars in Hello Dolly.

The Producers is a very literate show. The great long runs we have seen had spectacular visuals, music, and sights to behold. The Producers is much more dependent on the dialogue and the lyrics of its songs.

The Producers is a musical comedy. It is not Les Miz or Phantom or Miss Saigon or Cats. In the great past of musical comedies of Broadway, star power seems like it was almost always present.

I can understand the production wanting to reap greater profit by hoping that lesser salaried stars will still fill up the standing room.

This is simply not the case. At The Producers, it has been demonstrated that lesser known stars as Bialystock and Bloom, will not fill up the standing room.
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So well said TOT and robj! And very true.
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum Bring gloom down to the minimum Have faith or pandemonium's Liable to walk upon the scene
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thank you Sheekala:)
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Imagine the rest of the cast playing their roles every night knowing the audience could care less about them & their performances & only came for Lane/Broderick. I wonder if secretly all the hoopla leads to some jealousy & bad feelings between the dynamic duo & the rest of the cast.
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Mr Roxy,

As Kander and Ebb wrote in The Act

"that's the way things are when they pay to see a star."
"MAY YOUR LIFE BE AS BRIGHT AS BROADWAY AT NIGHT"
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After readings all this talk about The Producers lately (some of which I admit I have taken part in), a couple a questions came to mind. Let's forget about Nathan and Matthew for a second (yes, you can do it if you really try) and forget people who replaced them and have played the roles of Max and Leo since. Pretend that back in April of 2001 the same show opened with the same music, same choreography, same book, same direction, same eveything except that two unknown actors were in the roles of Max and Leo. If their chemistry was just as good as Nathan and Matthew's, do you think the show would have had just as much (or even close) success?

I'm not looking for an answer, just throwing that out there.

IMHO, I think the book, music, choreography etc are all very well done, to say the least. It's an entertaining show. But I doubt that there would have been such a long line for tickets right after reviews came out if two unknowns were starring in it, as opposed to Nathan and Matthew.
There are shows that get good reviews all the time on Broadway with lesser known actors, but do you ever see lines for those shows? Well, I sure haven't. In my personal experience, shows that are very well done but lack star power take a bit longer to get the attention of theatergoers, sometimes the Tony awards help people decide what they want to see.

It's no secret that before The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick both had solid careers. People definately knew who they were, which (I think) was the main draw for people to see the show and that factor lead to them being exposed to the other brilliant parts of the show.
There are some people (on this board, I'm sure) who decide to see shows based on reasons other than star power (for example, maybe they like the choreographer or some other part of the creative team). But these people, unfortunately, are greatly outnumbered by people who make it a point to see shows with "stars".

Although I do love the show and Nathan and Matthew in these roles, I must agree with Bulldog, it is not worth all some of the ridiculous things people are resorting to. I mean, really people:

Theatregoers getting into arguments on the ticket line with a show rep bascially playing referee?

Homeless people waiting in line for scalpers?

People turning up 4 days in advance to wait on the sidewalk for the box office to open?

I myself cannot think of anything but a life or death situation that would lead me to do such things. It's hard even for me to put into words how I feel about all of it. I mean, it's just a show......
(formerly bronte604) "You really just love money and power and capitalism? You know they're never going to love you back." "Things happen for the best...I don't even believe that myself."
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re: Producers musings#17
Posted: 11/18/03 at 8:33am
Well, ToT, so far you have not answered my question.

Which BIG NAME stars can replace Nathan and Matthew?

And do you want BIG NAME stars that are in it just for the sake of celebrity or BIG NAME stars that can actually perform the roles? You cite the parade of Dollys that followed Carol Channing. That was a different world - you had a whole generation of talented stars with great nostalgic appeal to pick from. Nearly all the ladies that followed CC had some expertise in musical comedy from the years they spent in Hollywood twenty years previously. There isn't that richness or craft today.

You need to read my post a bit more carefully.  re: Producers musings
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re: re: Producers musings#18
Posted: 11/18/03 at 9:40am
MasterLcZ,

I think there have already been a few threads about replacements for Max and Leo in The Producers. But thinking off the top of my head:

for Max:

Kelsey Grammer
Steve Martin
Robin Williams
Danny Devito
Richard Dreyfuss
Alec Baldwin
John Laroquette
Richard Gere
Jim Carrey

Leo:

David Schwimmer
John C. Reilly
Mike Meyers
Eric McCormack
Adam Sandler

there are lots of casting possibilities..
"MAY YOUR LIFE BE AS BRIGHT AS BROADWAY AT NIGHT"
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re: re: re: Producers musings#19
Posted: 11/18/03 at 9:57am
Cross Martin, Williams, deVito, Gere (!?!), Carrey, Meyers & Sandler (and probably Reilly) off the list. They are making too much money in Hollywood and I seriously doubt would consider a Broadway run of these very demanding and exhausting roles.

There are far fewer casting possibilites than you think - if you want competence and "Star Power".
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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re: re: re: re: Producers musings#20
Posted: 11/18/03 at 10:01am
MasterLcz, what casting can you see?:) that would bring both star power and great performances?
"MAY YOUR LIFE BE AS BRIGHT AS BROADWAY AT NIGHT"
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re: re: re: re: re: Producers musings#21
Posted: 11/18/03 at 10:06am
Ay, ToT...that's the rub! re: re: re: re:  re: Producers musings There aren't any plausible STAR candidates I can think of...the only one that I am very intregued by is Richard "Best thing in BOUNCE" Kind as Max. But I suspect he's not a big enough star to bring in the masses, no matter how good he might turn out to be!
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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re: Producers musings#22
Posted: 11/18/03 at 5:25pm
I first went to see The Producers 2 months after Lane and Broderick left the show. Hadn't listened to the CD first. I fell in love with it for what it is (and Roger Bart, hee). I've seen it 3 more times since. I guess I'm an odd one in that I'm in love with Bart rather than NL or MB (though MB is right up on my list too), but I was more hysterical with trying to get tix when Bart took over as Leo than I was this weekend. I got the last row of balcony for cheap on a Wednesday matinee in March. I'll have a nose bleed, a headache, and my binoculars primed, but I'll be seizing my chance to see the return of the masters, something that doesn't happen often. I'm also taking the risk that NL won't be there since it's a matinee performance, but you know what...I don't care. Even if both were out, I know I'd be perfectly satisfied with their understudies (Oscar and Bart). It would be sad, but I'd be ok, even if I spent $100. That's how much I love the show. However, I know the chemistry between the original cast is unbeatable, and I just really want a chance to see them. I'd go see all the big cast rotations, but I live a couple hours away and am not rolling in $. I know that makes me different from the casual theatregoer. I didn't make myself crazy on Sunday though. I was in NY to see Wicked and Cabaret...didn't even get to town at 8 am or anything to secure a place in line. I got the ticket last night and find it hysterical that the cheapest ticket I've gotten for the show is when Nathan and Matthew are back.
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re: re: re: Producers musings#23
Posted: 11/18/03 at 6:09pm
yeah cabarethed, but where is your ticket? balcony right? last i checked that's all that was left.

from that list that TOT posted....

You have to take off Eric McCormack and Kelsey Grammer...they have shows that tape in LA. The most they would be able to do is a couple months cause I don't know THAT much about Fraiser but I don't think it's ending anytime soon (?) and I'm pretty positive that Will and Grace still has a few years left.
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re: re: re: re: Producers musings#24
Posted: 11/18/03 at 10:53pm
Bought it at 1 am. It's center, H 110.