When it was announced that Cramlington-born comic Ross Noble was going to be making his musical theatre debut in The Producers, a quick look at the tour dates offered a bit of a head scratch moment.
While the UK tour of the hit production was due to spend a week at the Sunderland Empire from May 11, the long-haired lion of improvisational stand up wasn’t due to join the cast until the following week.
‘They’ve missed a trick there’, we thought, thinking that a North East audience would have loved to see him break new ground (we can’t recall 38-tear-old Ross working from a script in his life) as Franz Liebkind in the award-winning on-stage version of Mel Brooks’ legendary 1968 film.
As it turns out the producers of The Producers must have been thinking along the same lines and have announced that Ross will in fact make his first appearance as Franz - a role currently being played by fellow comedian Phill Jupitus - in Sunderland on Friday, May 15.
Good news wethinks - and Ross agrees.
He says: “When the opportunity came up to make my debut in the show a couple of days early in the North East I jumped at the chance.
“I’m sure I’ll get a warm reception as a Geordie in Sunderland but if they do have a problem with it, luckily I’m playing a German. I had a great time in Sunderland filming my TV show Freewheeling so it will be nice to be back this time causing a little less trouble.”
Ross will be starring alongside fellow comic Jason Manford - recently seen in BBC drama Ordinary Lies - as timid accountant Leo Bloom. Broadway and West End star Cory English reprises his role as Max Bialystock, one he played to critical acclaim in London’s West End.
Of Ross’ casting as the short fused, carrier pigeon keeping, former Nazi who is brought on board by Bialystok and Bloom to help them in their plot to put on the worst musical of all time, Jason says: “Ross is one of the most exciting and inventive comedians the UK has produced, he is one of those rare breed of comics who simply has funny bones. It’s a genius bit of casting.”
Based on the beloved Academy Award winning movie, the musical production has taken Broadway and the West End by storm, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards and a trio of Olivier Awards; it opened its UK tour in March 2015 and has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike.
The Producers plays Sunderland Empire from May 11-16. For tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com or call 0844 871 3022.