''The Producers'': Why was Goodman shown the door?

British actor Henry Goodman took over the part of Max Bialystock after Nathan Lane left in March. Goodman was let go last Sunday.

Does anyone know the reason why he was let go? I don’t want links to any of the articles in papers, I’ve read them. Supposedly he wasn’t as funny as Lane and the producers weren’t happy with the dwindling demand for tickets.

When I saw the show I thought Goodman was excellent. The producers of “The Producers” can’t really expect the same kind of buzz sorounding the show after its original stars left and they can’t expect anyone to be as successful as Lane at anything.

So what’s the deal here?

Do you not believe the newspaper articles? I’m not sure, but I doubt anyone here has insider info on exactly what the producers of “The Producers” were thinking. But they gave him a month and didn’t think things were working out. Better to cut their losses and try again than run the franchise into the ground with bad buzz.

I saw the show in Jan with Nathan Lane and I really couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. Broderick wasn’t there that night, but I didn’t feel the show suffered much from his understudy. But Nathan Lane is Max, it’s going to be very difficult to find a replacement that the audiences will accept.


Unless they can somehow resurrect Zero Mostel.

Saw it last November, with both Lane and Broderick, and enjoyed the hell out of it. And while replacing Lane will be tough, was anyone else put off by Broderick trying too hard to do Gene Wilder? I mean, Gene Wilder was sometimes kinda hit and miss about doing Gene Wilder.


Flick Lives!

The newspaper accounts don’t say much, and the actual producers of “The Producers” won’t go into detail about the reasons for Goodman’s firing.

I can offer a guess, however. My guess is, Goodman’s performance was just fine, but advance ticket sales were falling sharply once it was announced he’d be taking over the part. “The Producers” didn’t draw most of its audience from the standard theater-going crowd. It drew tourists and the so-called “bridge and tunnel crowd” (i.e. suburbanites, New Jerseyans, blue-collar folk from Queens and Brooklyn). To attract THAT crowd, star power is important.

A Long Island housewife or a midwestern tourist doesn’t know who Henry Goodman is, so even if he’s a wonderful actor (I suspect he is), his name won’t sell any tickets.

I’d be willing to bet that the next Max will be someone well known- someone like Jason (“Seinfeld”) Alexander. Someone who can appeal both to Manhattan theater buffs AND the Great Unwashed.

There’s an interesting article about Henry Goodman’s dismissal in the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/16/arts/theater/16PROD.html (You may have to register to view this page, but I believe it’s still free.)

According to the above article,

Further down the article, the show’s director Susan Stroman (who cast Mr. Goodman) is quoted as saying, “There are iconic moments — American moments — in The Producers that just weren’t in [Goodman’s] bones.”

Chuck- I HAD seen that piece in the Times, and I’m aware that, for now at least, the role of max is going to Brad Oscar, who had been playing the Nazi nut who wrote “Springtime for Hitler.”

But even if Mr. Oscar is great in the role (and he may well be), I have a hard time believing he’s going to have the role for very long. Most people have no idea who he is, and he certainly won’t be good for the box office.

I remain convinced that there will be a “name” actor in the role before long. The alternative is a dwindling box office.

I had read that Jason Alexander was slotted to play Max in the touring company that will start next year. Clearly, the role of Max is going to be the tough one to fill.