Ask Gotham legiters to look into a crystal ball, and a good number of them will tell you “The Producers,” no longer the box office juggernaut it once was, will be closing in the not-too-distant future, and that the most likely candidate to take its place in the St. James Theater is another Mel Brooks tuner: “Young Frankenstein.”
Maybe. But it’s too early to place any bets.
“The Producers” has had a rough time recently. Over the last month, the weekly gross has dipped to as low as $415,000, hardly enough to cover running costs.
But producers of “The Producers” have vowed to hang on. (A B.O.-boosting return of original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick remains a possibility, but not soon — Lane begins perfs on Broadway in the play “Butley” Oct. 5, and Broderick stars in Kenneth Lonergan‘s Rialto-bound new play “The Starry Messenger” in San Diego in January.)
It’s also worth pointing out that nobody’s seen “Young Frankenstein” yet — the recently completed first draft, by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, won’t get a reading until later this month. The unconfirmed cast is said to include Kristin Chenoweth, Marc Kudisch and Shuler Hensley, with Sutton Foster and Cloris Leachman (reprising her role from the film) also mentioned as potential thesps.
In any event, no one can yet say what kind of shape “Frankenstein” is in, or when it will be ready for a full production.
If Jujamcyn Theaters, owner of the St. James, ends up looking for a replacement for “The Producers” before “Frankenstein” is ready, couldn’t the org be tempted by other shows — like, for instance, “The Wiz”?
That buzzed-about La Jolla Playhouse revival is directed by Des McAnuff, a longtime affiliate of Dodger Theatricals, which also counts Jujamcyn head Rocco Landesman as a member.