Mel Brooks had been approached for years with the idea of turning his successful 1968 film The Producers into a stage production, but the project didn’t come to fruition until 1998, when Brooks contacted writer Thomas Meehan to collaborate with him. Rehearsals began in 2000 for a February 2001 pre-Broadway trial run at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre, which quickly sold out and garnered rave reviews. Its Broadway opening, starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane as Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock, won an unprecedented 12 Tony awards -- one in every single category for which it was nominated, and with multiple nominations in acting categories -- and shattered box office records. Broderick and Lane went on to reprise their roles in the 2005 film version of the musical production (which was, yes, a film based on a musical based on a film) along with several more of their Broadway castmates.
Performed frequently by regional, collegiate, and high school groups, the show is known not only for its laugh-out-loud comedy and catchy showtunes, but, from a production standpoint, for its staging flexibility and its myriad solo opportunities within the ensemble. The level of dance in the show will vary from production to production, with some directors choosing to make it more of a spectacle and focusing more specifically on the story (often depending on the dance background or professional level of the company itself). Ensemble members and leads should be prepared to dance, though it may not be required of everyone.
Note: The following synopses, song list, and character descriptions are based on the original 2001 Broadway libretto, which is the version currently licensed by MTI.