Comedian and TV presenter Jason Manford is to share top billing in The Producers which is coming to Sunderland Empire in 2015.
The side-splitting Mel Brooks comedy originated as an Oscar-winning film in 1968. It was then turned into a stage musical by Brooks, opening on Broadway in 2001 starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
It ran for more than 2,500 performances and won 12 Tony Awards. A subsequent London production ran for more than two years.
The Producers tells of wily New York producer Max Bialystock who has been impoverished by a string of showbusiness flops.
With the help of downtrodden accountant Leo Bloom – to be played by Manford – he comes up with an insurance scam which depends on them producing a surefire Broadway flop.
The show they come up with is Springtime For Hitler which, they reckon, is in such appallingly bad taste that it must crash and burn.
As things turn out, the show serves only to underline the point that there’s no accounting for taste. Springtime For Hitler – the show within the show being The Producers’ climactic moment – is a storming success, just like The Producers.
The new tour starts next March and the show will be in Sunderland from May 11-16.
It will be Jason Manford’s first musical theatre tour in the UK. He has, however, performed in an acclaimed West End production of Sweeney Todd with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton and toured on the stand-up circuit.
He became a household name after appearing as a team captain on Channel 4’s 8 Out of 10 Cats in 2007.
He said: “I’m so thrilled to be starring in my favourite musical of all time.
“Mel Brooks is a genius and I’m so excited to be playing the iconic role he created. The show is a riot of laughs from start to finish.”
Brooks, now 88, said: “It’s brilliant to see The Producers being brought to life again with this new production and I can’t wait to see what Jason Manford brings to the role of Leo.”
The show is to be directed by Matthew White who won acclaim for his production of Top Hat. Further cast announcements will follow.
The Producers was last at Sunderland Empire in 2007 when American Cory English played Bialystock and Joe Pasquale was Leo Bloom.
For tickets for the 2015 version, tel. 0844 8713022 or buy online at www.atgtickets.com