The Producers
A scheming producer and his mousy accountant aim to produce the biggest flop on Broadway in Mel Brooks' laugh-out-loud spectacle.
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Act One

The show starts in Shubert Alley on the opening night of FUNNY BOY!, a musical version of HAMLET, produced by the indefatigable Max Bialystock. The usherettes enter wondering whether the show will be a hit or not. As patrons begin to exit the theater, the answer is clear: it's the worst show in town ("It's Opening Night"). A tuxedo clad Max appears. He tries to figure out what went wrong. He used to be the toast of Broadway and now he's a disaster. He vows to be on the top again ("The King Of Old Broadway").

We transition to Max's once elegant, now shabby, office, in which he is living. He is startled awake by a knock at the door. It is a schlubby accountant named Leo Bloom who has come to handle Max's books. One of Max's investors, an elderly lady he refers to as Hold Me-Touch Me, suddenly comes by. Max forces Leo to hide in the bathroom. Hold Me-Touch Me has brought Max a check, but she won't give it to him until he plays one dirty game with her. Leo accidentally walks in on them and immediately returns to the bathroom until she leaves.

Once Hold Me-Touch Me is gone, Leo apologizes for interrupting Max. Max is prepared to be mad at Leo but, surprisingly, Leo is a fan; he reveals a secret desire to be a Broadway producer. Max tells him to just do the books. Leo realizes that Max's books do not add up, but when he tries to tell Max he gets so nervous he ends up in a fetal position on the floor. Max finally coaxes him off the floor and Leo explains the discrepancy: the show raised one hundred-thousand dollars, but only costs ninety-eight hundred-thousand. Max begs Leo to help him hide that small amount of money rather than sending him to jail. Leo agrees as the IRS is unlikely to look through the books of a flop show. Max then makes a simple observation: under the right circumstances, one could make more money with a flop than with a hit. Suddenly, Leo is listening.

Max explains: the first step -- find the worst play ever written, the second step -- find the worst director in town, the third step -- raise 2 million dollars, the fourth step -- hire the worst actors in town, the fifth step -- open on Broadway, and the final step -- run away to Rio with the money! Leo is unconvinced but Max tries to sell him the idea ("We Can Do It").

Leo returns to the drudgery of his accounting job. After being berated by his boss for being six minutes late, he imagines what it would be like to have his dream of producing a Broadway show come true ("I Wanna Be A Producer"). He quits his job and returns to Max's office, exclaiming that he wants everything he's ever seen in the movies ("We Can Do It [Reprise]"). Max and Leo begin to pour over scripts in Max's office. The plays are bad, but not bad enough. Finally, Max finds the worst play ever written -- SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER: A GAY ROMP WITH EVA AND ADOLF AT BERCHTESGADEN.

In the West Village, Franz Liebkind, the author of SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER, tends to his pigeons on his roof. He wears lederhosen and a German Army helmet and sings an ode to his homeland ("In Old Bavaria"). When Max and Leo arrive, Franz is skeptical of their intent. However, he is thrilled with the prospect of clearing the Fuhrer's name on Broadway. He won't sign the deal with Max and Leo unless they prove they will do justice to the Fuhrer's memory by joining him in the Fuhrer's favorite song and dance. He also makes them take the sacred Siegfried Oath to never dishonor the memory of Adolph Elizabeth Hitler, as the Fuhrer was descended from a long line of English queens ("Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop"). Leo worries that they're in too deep, but Max assures him he'll let him know when they're in too deep. They take the Oath and the rights are theirs.

Next, they go to the home of noted director Roger De Bris. Carmen, his assistant, is fielding phone calls when Max and Leo enter. De Bris enters in a silvery full-length Art Deco gown. He tells Max that Franz's play is remarkable, but too dark and depressing for him to direct ("Keep It Gay"). However, when Max dangles the idea of a Tony, De Bris signs on to the project.

Back in the office, a gorgeous, young Swedish woman named Ulla enters. She wants to audition; she knows she has what it takes to get their attention ("When You've Got It, Flaunt It"). Max offers her the part and the side job of secretary/receptionist until rehearsals begin. Max then explains to Leo that producers never put their own money into a show, so now he must go pay a visit to Little Old Lady Land. Max does what he has to and literally puts his backers on their backs ("Along Came Bialy"). By the end, he has raised enough money to do the show and SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER is slated for Broadway.

Act Two

Max and Leo arrive at the office to find that Ulla has tidied up the office 'Swedish' style. Everything is high gloss white. Max gets cash from the safe and exits to pay the Shubert's rent for the theatre. Alone, Ulla comes onto Leo and he responds in kind ("That Face").

At auditions, the creative team sees a series of terrible actors trying to dance and sing. Each singing Hitler is worse than the one before ("Audition Opening"/"The Little Wooden Boy"). During one particularly bad rendition, Franz jumps up on stage himself to show an actor how it's done. His performance takes the cake and he is cast as his hero ("Have You Ever Heard The German Band?).

We flash forward to opening night, where the usherettes are standing by ("It's Opening Night [Reprise]"). Leo, feigning ignorance, wishes everyone good luck. Roger and Carmen are aghast - they remind him of the old theater tradition of that phrase ("It's Bad Luck To Say Good Luck On Op'ning Night"). In the excitement, Franz actually does break a leg. The show must go on, however, and Max insists De Bris go on as Hitler.

The scene transforms to the show within the show, featuring Roger's big number. There are a squad of tap dancing storm troopers and follies girls with headdresses of giant pretzels, bratwurst, and beer steins; the number is tasteless, offensive, and hysterical. At the end of the dance section, De Bris as Hitler sits at the edge of the stage a la Judy Garland and sings to the audience. This is followed by the entrance of Stalin, Churchill, and FDR who are defeated by the singing-tap dancing Hitler. The number ends with the storm troopers forming a swastika that rotates clockwise and chorus girls astride cannon ("Springtime For Hitler").

When the audience leaves, Max and Leo await the negative reviews. But, much to their shock and dismay, the show is a hit! Leo and Max can't figure out how this is possible ("Where Did We Go Right?"). Leo takes the account books and is going to turn himself in when De Bris and Carmen enter. They are soon followed by Franz, who is brandishing a gun, furious that they have made fun of Hitler. Pandemonium then ensues -- the gun eventually goes off and the police break in to try and arrest the alleged shooter, Franz, who rushes offstage and promptly breaks his other leg. The cops arrest him and find the two accounting books on the couch. Max is arrested but Leo, who has been hiding, is convinced by Ulla, who has just entered in a slinky gown, that he shouldn't turn himself in. She wants to go to Rio with him ("Leo Goes To Rio").

In a holding cell a few weeks later, Max receives a postcard from Leo and Ulla in Brazil. Max replays the entire series of events becoming more and more upset about Leo's backstabbing ("Betrayed"). In a courtroom, Max is about to be sentenced when Leo reappears. He hands over the remains of the two million to the judge and reaffirms his friendship with Max ("'Til Him"). The judge, not wishing to break up such a touching friendship, sentences them both to five years in Sing Sing.

We transition to Sing Sing. We are at a rehearsal for PRISONERS OF LOVE, the latest production by Bialystock and Bloom. As the title song is being sung by the prisoners, a trustee enters with a pardon for Max, Leo, and Franz ("Prisoners Of Love"). They all celebrate as we transition to the Broadway production of PRISONERS OF LOVE. Ulla and De Bris appear as the stars. The show is in its fourth successful year on Broadway -- Max and Leo have become true success stories.


← Back to The Producers
Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Max Bialystock
The consummate con man. Naturally animated and bombastic, he is never at a loss for charm and manners. Typically conspires with Leo.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 55
Vocal range top: F#4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Leo Bloom
An accountant. Boring and mousy, he is a hesitant optimist who longs for something more. Dragged into a scheme by Max.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Franz Liebkind
German loyalist playwright. From his lederhosen to his pigeon, Adolph, his love for the motherland is unmistakable. He is imposing yet tender.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 55
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: F2
Rogers Debris
New York's most famous and flamboyant stage director. Surrounds himself with deliciously beautiful clothing, people, and possessions. In a crowd, it would be impossible to miss him.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: G#2
Carmen Ghia
Roger Debris' faithful assistant. Carmen is severe in looks and passion for Roger. He may appear younger than he actually is thanks to skilled surgeons.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yonsen Tallen-hallen Svaden-svanson
A young and hopeful actress. Though her beauty might eclipse her talent, Ulla is passionate about life and art. Quite a clueless seductress in some ways.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Accountants; Bavarian Peasants; Convicts; First Nighters; Little Old Ladies; Storm Troopers; Chorus Girls; Girl Prisoners; Usherettes
Full Song List
The Producers: Overture
The Producers: It's Opening Night
The Producers: The King Of Broadway
The Producers: We Can Do It
The Producers: I Wanna Be A Producer
The Producers: In Old Bavaria
The Producers: Der Gutten Tag Hop-Clop
The Producers: Keep It Gay
The Producers: When You've Got It, Flaunt It
The Producers: Along Came Bialy
The Producers: That Face
The Producers: Have You Ever Heard The German Band?
The Producers: It's Bad Luck To Say Good Luck On Op'ning Night
The Producers: Springtime For Hitler
The Producers: Where Did We Go Right?
The Producers: Betrayed
The Producers: Til Him
The Producers: Prisoners Of Love
The Producers: Goodbye

Show History


Based on the 1968 Mel Brooks film, The Producers musical was an idea that had been suggested to Brooks for many years, but which he always rejected. It was the famed record and movie producer David Geffen who finally convinced Brooks that a stage version of the show would add to the legacy of the film rather than detract from it. Brooks calls Geffen "the most persuasive, smartest guy that ever lived." Geffen also convinced Brooks that he, Brooks, should be the one to write the score.

Finally convinced, Brooks contacted book writer Tom Meehan in 1998. They had collaborated on the films To Be Or Not to Be and Spaceballs. Brooks also invited the husband and wife team of Mike Ockrent and Susan Stroman to join the team as director and choreographer respectively. But, in 1999, Ockrent's life was cut tragically short when he died from acute leukemia. Brooks convinced Stroman that she had to continue involvement in the show, and should take over the directorial duties as well, that work was what she needed to help her heal. Stroman agreed.


The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 cult classic film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks and music composed by Brooks and arranged by Glen Kelly and Doug Besterman. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop.

Rehearsals for the show began on December 11, 2000, before the opening of its out-of-town tryout at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theater from February 1, 2001, through February 25, 2001. The reviews were ecstatic and the Chicago run quickly sold out.

Under the direction of Susan Stroman the show then arrived on Broadway at the St. James Theater on March 22, 2001, where it began previews leading up to its official opening on April 19, 2001. Starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, The Producers quickly became the hottest ticket in the history of Broadway, hailed by critics and audiences alike. The show dominated the awards season that year, winning a record 12 Tony Awards and going on to run for 33 previews and 2,502 performances before closing on April 22, 2007.

During and following its Broadway run, The Producers spawned a successful London production running for just over two years, two US national tours, a UK tour, and many productions worldwide, including a production in 2012 at the Hollywood Bowl with such notables as Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rebecca Romijn, Roger Bart, and Gary Beach.

Cultural Influence

  • In addition to the many regional and international productions mounted, The Producers was made into a musical movie in 2005. The movie based on the musical based on the movie was directed by Susan Stroman and starred most of the original Broadway cast, including Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
  • A soundtrack from the 2001 original Broadway cast as well as one from the 2005 film cast were both released by Sony Records.
  • On the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Producers was featured in almost every episode of Season 4.


  • The Producers is, quite simply, the winningest Broadway musical in history. Nominated for 15 Tony Awards, the show won 12, breaking the record previously set by Hello, Dolly in 1964 and becoming one of the few musicals to win in every category for which it was nominated it received two nominations for leading actor and three for featured actor.
  • After the opening, The Producers broke the record for the largest single day box-office ticket sales in theatre history, taking in more than $3 million. Then when it was announced that Lane and Broderick would return for a limited run from December 2003 to April 2004, sales for the show broke its own record with over $3.5 million in single day ticket sales, selling out the limited-engagement immediately.
  • Nathan Lane was always Brooks' first choice for Bialystock. When Lane was guest hosting on the David Letterman show and Brooks was a guest, he practically forced Lane to sign a contract on the spot. Broderick was tapped for the role of Leo Bloom based on his Tony winning performance in the revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
  • Nathan Lane reprised his role Max Bialystock during the show's first few months on London's West End.

Critical Reaction

"Everybody who sees The Producers -- and that should be as close to everybody as the St. James Theater allows -- is going to be hard-pressed to choose one favorite bit from the sublimely ridiculous spectacle...The Producers, is as full of gags, gadgets and gimmicks as an old vaudevillian's trunk. But the show, which has a book by Mr. Brooks and Thomas Meehan with songs by Mr. Brooks (you heard me), is much more than the sum of its gorgeously silly parts. It is, to put it simply, the real thing." - New York Times

"Extraordinary tickling power... it is irresistible." - LA Times

"It's reign as a solid, entertaining show is just beginning, and is unlikely to end any time soon." - Talkin Broadway

"Entirely irresistible and irrepressible confection." - The Stage (UK)

Academy Award

1968 - Best Supporting Actor, Nominee (Gene Wilder)

Best Original Score

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Original Score)

Drama Desk Award

2001 - Best Lyrics, Winner (Mel Brooks)
2001 - Outstanding Costume Design, Winner (William Ivey Long)
2001 - Outstanding Orchestrations, Winner (Doug Besterman)
2001 - Outstanding Set Design of a Musical, Winner (Robin Wagner)
2001 - Outstanding Musical, Winner ()
2001 - Best Actor in a Musical, Winner (Nathan Lane)
2001 - Best Choreography, Winner (Susan Stroman)
2001 - Best Director of a Musical, Winner (Susan Stroman)
2001 - Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Winner (Gary Beach)
2001 - Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Cady Huffman)

Outer Critics Circle Award

2001 - Outstanding Director Of A Musical, Winner (Susan Stroman)
2001 - Outstanding Choreography, Winner (Susan Stroman)
2001 - Outstanding Scenic Design, Winner (Robin Wagner)
2001 - Outstanding Broadway Musical, Winner (The Producers)
2001 - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, Winner (Gary Beach)
2001 - Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Cady Huffman)
2001 - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Winner (Nathan Lane)
2001 - Outstanding Costume Design, Winner (William Ivey Long)

Outstanding Book of a Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Book of a Musical)

Tony® Award

2001 - Orchestrations, Winner (Doug Besterman )
2001 - Actor (Musical), Nominee (Matthew Broderick )
2001 - Costume Designer, Winner (William Ivey Long )
2001 - Actor (Featured Role--Musical), Winner (Gary Beach )
2001 - Lighting Designer, Winner (Peter Kaczorowski )
2001 - Actor (Featured Role--Musical), Nominee (Roger Bart )
2001 - Musical, Winner (Producers: Rocco Landesman, SFX Theatrical Group, The Frankel-Baruch-Viertel-Routh Group, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Rick Steiner, Robert F.X. Sillerman, Mel Brooks, James D. Stern/Douglas Meyer)
2001 - Actor (Featured Role--Musical), Nominee (Brad Oscar )
2001 - Original Musical Score, Winner (Music & lyrics by Mel Brooks)
2001 - Actor (Musical), Winner (Nathan Lane )
2001 - Book (Musical), Winner (Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan)
2001 - Actress (Featured Role--Musical), Winner (Cady Huffman )
2001 - Scenic Designer, Winner (Robin Wagner )
2001 - Choreographer, Winner (Susan Stroman )
2001 - Director (Musical), Winner (Susan Stroman )

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Leading Actor in a Musical)

Outstanding Actor in a Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Actor in a Musical)

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Featured Actor in a Musical)

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical)

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Featured Actress in a Musical)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical)

Best Scenic Design

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Scenic Design )

Outstanding Choreography

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Choreography)

Best Costume Design

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Costume Design)

NY Drama Critics Circle Award

2001 - Best Musical, Winner (The Producers)

Outstanding Director of a Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Director of a Musical )

Best Lighting Design

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Lighting Design)

Outstanding Orchestrations

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Orchestrations)

Best Choreography

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Choreography)

Outstanding Lyrics

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Lyrics)

Best Direction of a Musical

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Direction of a Musical)

Outstanding Set Design of a Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Set Design of a Musical )

Best Musical

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Musical)

Best Orchestrations

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Orchestrations)

Outstanding Costume Design

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Costume Design)

Best Book of a Musical

2001 - Tony Award -, Nominee (Best Book of a Musical )

Outstanding New Musical

2001 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding New Musical )

Best Musical of the Season

2001 - New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards -, Nominee (Best Musical of the Season)

Best New Musical

2005 - Olivier Award -, Nominee (Best New Musical)

Best Actor in a Musical

2005 - Olivier Award -, Nominee (Best Actor in a Musical)



Based on the 1968 Film


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Size Type:
A New Mel Brooks Musical
Book by
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