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Brooks, Stroman, and Meehan Introduce The Producers to the London Press

By New York City
Richard Dreyfuss, Mel Brooks, and Lee Evans in a publicity shotfor the London production of The Producers
Richard Dreyfuss, Mel Brooks, and Lee Evans in a publicity shot
for the London production of The Producers
LONDON, ENGLAND: The producers of The Producers fired their opening salvos for the impending London staging of the megahit at a cozy event held in the grand salon of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane this week. A group of arts writers got the chance to chat up the musical's primary creators: Mel Brooks (book, music & lyrics), Thomas Meehan (book co-author), and Susan Stroman (director-choreographer).

Introduced by Clear Channel representative David Ian, the trippy triumvirate emerged arm-in-arm when two double doors were thrown wide. They lock-stepped (rather than goose-stepped) into the room with big smiles on faces, as befits three people who are greatly responsible for the most Tony awarded show ever. A large poster behind them depicted the London production's stars, Richard Dreyfuss and Lee Evans, who were not in attendance. (Dreyfuss, who has a six-month contract to play Max Bialystock in the tuner through April 23, 2005 was in Manhattan rehearsing for Sly Fox; and Evans, the popular local stand-up comic who'll be playing Leo Bloom, was elsewhere in London rehearsing Samuel Beckett's Endgame with Michael Gambon. Dreyfuss and Evans will bow in Producers previews on October 22 and will open on November 9.)

The up-close-and-personal shmoozing with the creative team began after a photo shoot and only after Brooks told a pianist who'd been plunking the Producers score, "We're talking now -- and you missed a note in one of the songs." During the gabfest, Stroman said that she was very happy with the dancers who've been hired for the London production. "They're beautiful," she exclaimed. "Six feet, five ten. And the men are good, too!" Meehan -- having spent the last few months working on Bombay Dreams, which is due to open this side of the big pond in April -- said, "We're doing a lot of Americanizing" of Bombay Dreams for Broadway consumption but not so much altering of The Producers for British audiences. "We'll be looking at it in rehearsals," he added.

Also in the room but not introduced was Tom Viertel, representing the Frankel Baruch Viertel Routh Group, one of the musical's producing partners. Thrilled to say that he was associated with a production headed into the Drury Lane, he was also enthusiastic about Dreyfuss, whom he's heard sing and of whose pipes he heartily approves, and Lee Evans, whom he considers a first-rate physical clown. One thing Viertel wouldn't do is speculate on the show's reception in London: "I take nothing for granted" is what he had to say on that subject. Presumably, he feels the same way about the Australian Producers package, which will also open in the not-so-distant future with Aussie idol Reg Livermore as Bialystock.

Incidentally, The Producers will debut abroad during a London season that looks to be heavy on musicals; the Cameron Mackintosh/Disney co production of Mary Poppins and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Woman in White are among the most anticipated.


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