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‘Producers’ off roading it

Tuner taking time off tour

Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom continue to score on Broadway, but they’ll be taking a breather from the road.

After kicking off in Boston in June 2003, the second national company of “The Producers” will shutter in Japan this July. It follows the first national company, which closed recently in Pittsburgh after a 17-month run.

Together, the two companies have played 221 touring weeks and grossed more than $222 million. That’s a solid performance, but not supersize biz for the road.

By comparison, two touring companies of “Mamma Mia!” have put in 366 weeks and grossed $332 million. The first ran from 2000 to 2004. The second preemed in 2002, and is booked through 2007.

After its glam 2001 Broadway premiere and subsequent 12 Tony wins, “The Producers” looked to be the next “Lion King” and the salvation of a beleaguered road. But Broadway is located in Gotham, and box office on the road often beats to a different, more conservative drummer. Pundits wondered: Would Middle America get Mel Brooks’ inside-legit jokes? Could drag queens and Nazis compete with Disney critters and dancing spoons? The answer: not quite.

The original Gotham production has done more robust biz than the road versions. Having played over 1,700 perfs at the St. James, “The Producers” just passed the $220 million mark.

Meanwhile, a third U.S. company of “The Producers,” slated for September 2005, will be pushed back to next year. The show’s producers cited the skeds of Brooks and director Susan Stroman, who are working on the film version. “The Producers: The Movie Musical” is a December 2005 release.

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