As an industry friend of mine said yesterday, “So…The Producers closed. Does anyone care?” In the grand scheme of things, the answer appeared to be “Heil no.” After six years and 2,535 performances, the Mel Brooks meta-musical went out with a whimper, rather than a bang. (Though composer-lyricist-coauthor Brooks, librettist Tom Meehan, and director-choreographer Susan Stroman did attend Sunday’s final performance and attempted to inject a celebratory feeling into the proceedings.)
Despite its six-year run, The Producers couldn’t maintain the original giddy excitement that comes with 12 Tony Awards and sell-out houses. Once original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick departed, the show simply wasn’t a phenomenon. It wasn’t even an event. (Until Lane and Broderick’s brief return engagement, that is.) And that’s a shame, because folks who turned their noses up at anyone not named Nathan or Matthew really missed out on something special: a genuinely hilarious, cleverly constructed, runs-like-a-Swiss-watch musical comedy that proved bigger than any two stars.
As for the replacements, well, Wings star Steven Weber may not have been the perfect nebbishy accountant Leo Bloom, but he brought an unexpected sweetness to the role; Nathan’s famous understudy, Brad Oscar, who took over as famous flopmeister Max Bialystock when the Tony winner left, was every bit as blustery and broad as his predecessor; and the most recent stars, John Treacy Egan and Hunter Foster, were a dynamite pairing. If you missed The Producers, it could be coming soon to a city near you. And keep an eye out for Young Frankenstein, the next Brooks-Stroman collaboration, on Broadway this fall.
addCredit(“Producers: Evan Agostini/Getty Images”)