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.