The Producers:

Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney.
Gotta sing, gotta dance April 16, 2004  The Age
As timid Leo Bloom in The Producers, Tom Burlinson is revelling in the vaudevillian challenge, writes John Mangan.

In The Man from Snowy River he had to learn how to ride a horse. For his one-man show, Frank - A Life in Song, he eerily mastered the voice and presence of Frank Sinatra. Now, for The Producers, Tom Burlinson has to push the envelope yet again, this time as Leo Bloom, the hysterically timid accountant originally played by Gene Wilder.

Sitting in the Princess Theatre's cafe, Burlinson is more Clark Kent than Superman, quiet and unassuming as he confesses that the thought of stepping into Wilder's shoes is "quite daunting".

Still, testing his chameleon-like qualities to the limit, the role gives him the chance to play in a multi-award winning Broadway musical, to star opposite an Australian stage legend in Reg Livermore, to sing in his own voice, and to hone his skills in dancing and pratfalling.

It's just a matter of getting the balance right between the singing, comedy and dance elements of the role, a balance Burlinson has been seeking to strike in his own work since he graduated from NIDA. Acting was his initial passion. He married a dancer, Mandy, and now he finds the lure of music irresistible. "I really like the musical development in my career," he says. "That's something that's come quite late to me. And I've found that I'd much rather hang with musicians than actors, to tell the truth - there's something about music that's good for the soul, I think."

A balance between career and family too has been struck with dreams of making it big in Hollywood taking a back seat to personal considerations. "I want my kids to grow up in Australia. My little girl's starting school this year and while I'm absolutely committed to doing the best job that I can, there are other priorities: that my kids get a good education and have a good childhood, and I have time to be a good husband."

While The Producers is choreographed to within an inch of its life, Burlinson stresses the room for individual interpretation once the basic steps and cues are locked in.

"When I saw the production in Los Angeles with Jason Alexander and Martin Short, I knew that I wouldn't play it like Martin Short plays it - not that he wasn't good, but I knew it would be different when I did it.

"Short brings a great deal of physical comedy to it that isn't actually in the script, which he's obviously been allowed and encouraged to do. The audience loved him, but I think I probably play it more like Matthew Broderick did."

Preparation has been suitably meticulous: Burlinson had the Broadway-cast CD, Mel Brooks's 1968 movie and four scenes from Act I to learn for the big audition in LA in front of Brooks.

Despite a tension-induced swelling on his face on audition day, Burlinson was determined that the show must go on. "I'd been flown halfway across the world - I had to do it. There's no way I couldn't. Mel Brooks was sitting there watching, quite apart from 12 other producers and associated people ... Auditions are uncomfortable at the best of times, but Mel Brooks was very personable and funny and friendly."

The nerves can't have shown too much because later the same day, just before he left for the airport to fly back to Australia, the word came through that he'd got the part.

Since then, one of his main tasks has been getting the steps right. "You know when you see a show once and you think, 'oh yeah, there's a bit of dancing in it'," he says. "But Leo does quite a lot of real dancing, not just moving around. There's a tribute to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in reverse. There's tapping in it - it's a real challenge.

"Fortunately, my wife is a dancer and she has certainly helped. We've moved all the furniture and made a space in the lounge room to practise!"

As for his on-stage partner, Reg Livermore, Burlinson has been a fan for years. "When I was at NIDA, Reg was doing those hugely successful one-man shows, Betty Blokk Buster, Sacred Cow. He was really an inspiration for my generation: singing, dancing, doing comedy, and making a great success of it. He was an idol."

Their off-stage chemistry is as much Yin and Yang as their on-screen characters - against Burlinson's timid Bloom, Livermore's explosive Max Bialystock is a wily, blustering old Broadway producer who knows every trick in the book when it comes to finagling investors and manipulating talent.

"We're quite different in personality," Burlinson smiles. "Having worked by himself and written his own stuff, Reg is by his own admission a free spirit. When I was doing Frank, I produced and wrote the show, but this is different. We're doing a play, basically, and I'm more used to doing what I'm told.

"There are times when I see him performing and I'm just taken straight back to seeing Betty Blokk Buster. There's something about his singing voice in particular that can take me right back to those days when he was the biggest star in the country on stage."

And there was a time when Burlinson was breaking box-office records in The Man from Snowy River. "In those days it was unheard of that an Australian film would be No.1 at the box office but it just stayed up there, and it stayed the most popular Australian film until Crocodile Dundee came along. It made more money in Australia than Star Wars. It made more money than Superman or Jaws. It ran for a year in the Hoyts Centre in Sydney.

"It was recently released on DVD and there's a whole generation of kids who are seeing it for the first time. Jim Craig, the hero, is still a role model for young boys. I know that because I still get letters from them."

Still, he promises, after a 1988 sequel fizzled, there will be no Man from Snowy River III, or even The Old Man from Snowy River, as he insists it would now have to be. "I've been saying for years though that the original movie should be re-released in the cinema because of that beautiful landscape and the music - to see it on the big screen is really powerful."

For now though, Burlinson is completely focused on Leo Bloom. "With the previews we've found out how long the laughs go and how to time the different parts. The audience response is a big dynamic in the show.

"Before the show there's the routine, the warming-up the voice, warming up not just for the dancing but for the falls, the mental preparation. But when you walk out on stage in this show there's no time to think about it - you just get into it. And you can tell people are with you through the laughter."

The Producers opens tomorrow.

Brooks a producer of quality   By CATHERINE LAMBERT 18 April 04  Herald Sun

IT IS crass, ridiculous - and may well be the best show we have ever seen in Melbourne, if not Australia, for years.

The Producers well and truly lives up to its opening night hype offering a belly laugh a minute in a delicious display of musical theatre at its best.
There are no weak links in this Mel Brooks extravaganza of rolling gags, visual surprises and a charming musical comedy-style score.

The show is satire at its finest, adapted by Brooks from his own cult 1968 movie into a classic musical that screams Broadway.

The Producers is about down-on-his-luck producer Max Bialystock (Reg Livermore) who boasts about once being the King of Broadway, but he hasn't had a hit in years.
When accountant Leopold Bloom (Tom Burlinson) visits Bialystock to do an audit he ponders how easy it would be to raise more money than you need for a show that you know will be a "sure-fire flop", and pocket the difference.

Bialystock immediately sees Bloom's idea as a way out of his doldrums and searches for the worst play ever written, discovering Springtime for Hitler by Franz Liebkind (Bert Newton).

He also finds the worst director on Broadway, Roger DeBris (Tony Sheldon), and then finds favour with his copious backers -- a team of financially and sexually robust little old ladies.

But when the show opens it is a devastating hit, ruining the producers' scam.

No-one is spared from the zeal of Brooks' wit -- jews, nationalists, gays and of course old ladies.

Newton is a hit as Liebkind, and Chloe Dallimore is divinely graceful as Bialystock and Bloom's Swedish assistant Ulla.

In demanding, super-charged comedy, Livermore and Burlinson complement each other perfectly so that we never stop believing in their characters.

Livermore is sardonic, commanding and Burlinson's transition from straight, to neurotic to a fully blown Broadway producer is a joy to watch.

This is definitely the hottest ticket in town and the funniest, brightest and probably the best show you will ever see.
Showtime for Hitler April 18, 2004 The Age

It's got pigeons and piggy banks, storm-troopers and show stoppers. Every detail has to be right, down to the last swastika. Michael Shmith goes backstage at The Producers to witness the American invasion as Springtime hits Spring Street.

It is an otherwise calm Friday afternoon, and we are on stage at the Princess Theatre with Adolf, Berte, Otto, Wolfgang, Schatzi, Heidi, Eva and Heinz.

They can only be described as Nazi pigeons. Above our heads hangs a German tank and, down stage left, a few storm-trooper jackets bearing familiar red-and-black armbands.

A cluster of walking frames are stacked nearby, alongside several pink piggy banks. Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome to The Producers, the hit show about a flop that becomes a hit. The Australian production, starring Reg Livermore as the outlandish one-time king of Broadway, Max Bialystock, and Tom Burlinson as his mildmannered accountant-turned-producer sidekick Leo Bloom, burst into life last night at the Princess Theatre.

Getting to first night has been only slightly less complicated than organising the troops at Stalingrad and marginally less expensive than the value of the Reichstag's gold reserves.

The campaign has been masterminded by the show's original creative team, led by its director and choreographer, Susan Stroman, who took the early rehearsals and returned for the last week of previews.

Big show, big budget. The Producers' producer, John Frost, says the Australian production has already cost $6 million, and that's before opening night. After that, Frost says, it will cost about $450,000 a week just for the theatre rental and salaries.

Much, therefore, depends on the box office, and Frost and his co-producers, SEL, are as anxious to see a hit as Bialystock and Bloom are desperate for a flop.

The Producers may have an all-Australian cast, there may be an absence of Jewish performers (I'm told there is one in the ensemble), but the production is as close to the original as it could be without renaming Spring Street Broadway.

The American production team has been here to ensure everything, but everything, is re-created exactly. To illustrate how, John Frost, over a hasty sandwich and coffee, reassigns his cutlery: "You move that knife to there, pick up the fork and put it there, you are told, 'No, put it there'. That's what it's like. It's that regimented. Down to everything. Then they say 'When you've learnt to put that knife there and that fork there, then you can put your stamp on it'."

The best example of doing it by the book can be found back in the theatre. Leading us around the bits and pieces of old Broadway (the show is set in 1959), is The Producers' head of props, Laura Koch.

There is nothing Koch does not know about the show. She was responsible for the genesis of the 400-odd props, which range from life-size puppets and furniture to the cheques, contracts and first-night tickets to Springtime for Hitler, (the musical in the musical).

Even the things the audience could never properly see are detailed down to the last signature and seat-number.

For example, the congratulatory telegrams on Max Bialystock's office wall have special messages. One reads, "Max, Iceman came and went. Still no money. Lawyers will be in touch. Eugene."

Koch had the tickets reprinted twice: once because the printed date, April 24 (her husband's birthday), did not tally with the date the show would have opened, September 13 (her husband's lucky number); the second time because they said "Max Bialystock presents" instead of "Bialystock and Bloom presents".

"I thought it wouldn't matter," says Laura, who is holding one of the pigeon puppets in her left hand, its head swivelling to and fro as she talks.

"But I've found the more attention to detail I can bring, the more relaxed and happy the actors are in their characters."

The pigeon, by the way, is called Adolf, who, with his eight caged siblings, is owned in the show by Franz Liebkind, author of Springtime for Hitler and arch devotee of the Fuhrer.

Koch has been in Melbourne to make sure each and every prop is in its right place at the right time.

Every item, she says, has a history, a story, a life. She says she can recite them all from memory, but in case this fails, and for the benefit of lesser minds, she has them listed and photographed in two chunky manuals (one for each act) she calls "the props bible". They could have been printed by the Gutenberg who is not the proprietor of a New York deli.

The Producers, which started life as a cult late- '60s film, became a Broadway musical in 2001 and is about to be a film (of the musical) again, bears the unmistakable stamp of Mel Brooks, Hollywood and Broadway’s king of schtick.

Who else could get away with a plot about two huckster producers who stage the world's most offensive, overcapitalised musical in hope of a second- night close and escape to Rio with their investors' money?

Worse — who could write a production number, Springtime for Hitler, in which the moustachioed one with the floppy black hair, sings: "I was just a paper hanger/ no one more obscurer./ Got a phone call from the Reichstag,/ Told me I was Fuhrer./ Germany was blue,/ What, oh, what to do?/ Hitched up my pants/ and conquered France/ Now Deutschland's smiling through!"?

Listen carefully earlier in the same number, to a solo line from the depths of the storm-trooper chorus line: "Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!"

The voice mimed by the actor — in the film and now the musical — is the husky Brooklyn tones of Maestro Mel himself. There's no escaping him. Indeed, The Producers' subtitle, carefully observed in all its promotional material, is "The new Mel Brooks musical". And Mel's Puckish spirit, well in advance of his actual presence for the opening, has pervaded every moment of rehearsal.

Susan Stroman's now famous first meeting with Brooks was when he visited her apartment in 1998.
"He was my hero. I knew every movie he ever made," she says. "I opened the door, ready to see this legend. Instead of shaking hands, his arms went up in the air, he launched into a song from the show, That Face, and danced down the hallway and jeteed on to the sofa. 'Hello, I'm Mel Brooks.' Whatever he wanted I wanted to be a part of it."

Originally, Stroman was to choreograph The Producers, but found herself directing it as well, taking over from her husband, Michael Ockrent, who died of cancer in December 1999.

"We went into rehearsal a year after Mike died, and Mel thought because I knew it already, I'd be the one to direct it. Having Mel in your life when you're grieving was the greatest antidote; he really saved me." She speaks of "constant creation, constant energy". No more so than with the show itself. The Australian production is the fifth Stroman & Co. have created. The others are on Broadway, in Toronto and two US touring companies; the London production opens in November.

How does Stroman adjust to working with different casts who might have their own ideas about character and motive?  "We teach them the show," she says. "All the sets and lights are the same, and there are patterns to follow in blocking and choreography. They are free within that world, and there are many moments when they are free to create. Reg (Livermore) has a wonderful drive: Max has to drive that show."

Max Bialystock is, indeed, a force majeur. The film's Max, the late Zero Mostel, was so formidable a presence, one could never imagine anyone else playing him. Then came Nathan Lane, the first stage Max.

"Nathan really stood on Zero's shoulders and created his own Max," says Stroman. "Now Reg will stand on Nathan's and Zero's."   An alarming, somewhat precarious image, yet one with an element of truth.

"I may be the oldest Max in the world," says Reg Livermore, who is 65. He is possibly also the most exhausted. It is, he says, the most difficult thing he's ever had to do.

"I thought it was simple. It's complex. The way it has been directed and put together — it is choreographed within an inch of its life."

Why do it, then? "A good part's a good part. I was at the stage of wondering what lay ahead. At my age I'm not playing glamour roles or juvenile leads. I was attracted by the enjoyment factor: I don't want to be serious or gloomy — had all those in my professional life."

Rehearsals have not been easy for Livermore or others in the cast. "As your character grows, you question: when we will I be allowed to make him my own?"   Clearly, Livermore and production team have had different ideas. "They want to make it their own first. It is difficult to come to terms with but you can see the wisdom. We're not the originators. We're given the blueprint that other people contributed to in the first place. The Americans are the horses' mouth and protective of their property. I'm all right about that."

Yet, one feels Livermore's Max Bialystock will have his own identity. "I can feel it happening in spite of myself," he says. "Mel Brooks said to me he didn't want me to waste my energies being a credible New York Jewish theatrical producer. 'You can't do it,' he told me. 'I would rather people say, "That's our Reg up there".' We should emphasise it is made our own."

The appeal to Australians, Livermore says, will be in the show's "larrikin elements". "I don't know who it will offend. The script confronts lots of issues. I'm sure the Americans who are here drilling us will be as interested as anyone else. They may be in for a shock."

Bottom-line time. Any show carries a high risk. As Max says to Leo, explaining the two cardinal rules of being a Broadway producer: "One, never put your own money in the show." "And two?" "NEVER put your own money in the show!"

Unlike Max Bialystock, John Frost is not wishing a sure-fire flop upon the world, but he has seen investments shrivel. He admits to a couple of Bialystock moments. "Two shows I had, Man of La Mancha and Footloose, bit the dust." This, he says, was part of a period with an over-supply of shows. "Too many people wanted to be a producer. There are only so many dollars to put towards hit musicals."

So why produce The Producers? Frost sees it as being a return to the good old-fashioned musical, with a great story and script. "If people were falling all over the place in New York, would they do it here or in Sydney? When you see the show, nothing has changed from Broadway; it's all there. The commercial theatre needs a hit and I'd like it to be this show."

Of course he would! So, too, would Frost's business partner, SEL. And so would the cast of 28 and orchestra of 19. But the word "risk" still hangs in mid-air. Frost hopes the show will run for at least eight months at the Princess, with a possible extension.

Certainly, says Frost, the appeal of The Producers to Australian audiences comes from the American television comedy we watched and still watch — from Jack Benny and Burns and Allen to Jerry Seinfeld.

"If we hadn't been brought up on American television, I'd be more worried," he says. The young John Frost started in theatre working as office boy for the late Kenn Brodziak — the closest Australia has had to a Max Bialystock in terms of character rather than choice of productions.

"He could peep through the curtain into the audience and tell you within a dollar the take for that performance," says Frost.

As with Brodziak, the Bialystocks of this world have all gone. "The people who produce now are all bottom-line people," says Frost. "The costs were much cheaper than they are now. Now, because they can lose so much money, some people in the industry don't know anything about theatre. They think doing a musical is easy: just putting on a show."

It takes guts to do this job. Especially of a show that contains this immortal line from its star: "I admit, for the last 20 years, I've been a lying, double- crossing, two-faced, backstabbing, despicable crook. But I had no choice I was a Broadway producer."
The Producers opened at the Princess Theatre last night.
Nazis storm Melbourne April 18, 2004 The Age by Michael Shmith

The Producers opened last night at the Princess Theatre and, if first nights are any guide, they had better rename Parliament House "The Reichstag" and the main drag "Springtime for Hitler Strasse". Adolf Hitler is not often taken with a pinch of Siberian salt, but it could hardly have been otherwise as he and his troopers stormed Melbourne.

The hit musical was attended by its inspiring genius, writer and director Mel Brooks, who looked overwhelmed.

The production received an ecstatic reaction as stars Reg Livermore and Tom Burlinson strutted their stuff. Bert Newton, as the Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind, had the audience in stitches, as did Chloe Dallimore as the Swedish secretary Ulla and Tony Sheldon as the "worst producer on Broadway", Roger de Brie.

When Springtime for Hitler unrolled its pastiche of almost every musical imaginable - including Hitler in an extraordinary Judy Garland moment - and stormtroopers took over the stage along with chorus girls dressed as wurst and pretzels, tall Hitler Youth dancers and all the tanks and swastikas this side of Berlin, one knew that art was imitating life and making a profit. The Producers carries the feeling that its main character, Max Bialystok, dreaded: that it will run and run.

"Now I find myself in this amazing show with legends like Reg Livermore, Bert Newton and The Man From Snowy River (Tom Burlinson)," Piro said.
"I had to resist the urge to go out and get coffee for them at the first rehearsal."
Grant Piro.  Grant joins Brooks hit.  Sunday Mail.  Author Matt Byrne.  28 March 2004

In demanding, super-charged comedy, Livermore and Burlinson complement each other perfectly so that we never stop believing in their characters.
Livermore is sardonic, commanding and Burlinson's transition from straight, to neurotic to a fully blown Broadway producer is a joy to watch.
This is definitely the hottest ticket in town and the funniest, brightest and probably the best show you will ever see.
Brooks a producer of quality.  The Herald Sun.  Author Caterine Lambert.  18 April 2004

"It's a very funny show," says Burlinson. "I mean one expects that it's going to be very funny being a Mel Brooks musical, but he's written some fabulous music for it. Music that is reminiscent of real old-style Broadway of Gershwin and Cole Porter."
NineMSN Arts. April 18 2004.  Producer: Marianne Latham

As Bialystock's sidekick, the initially timid then empowered Leo Bloom, Tom Burlinson is terrific. His first big turn, I Wanna Be A Producer, is enacted in true Broadway style - a fairytale transformation stunningly orchestrated by director and choreographer Susan Stroman. He sings well and looks the part,
The Producers, Melbourne.  Sydney Morning Herald. Author Bryce Hallett.  April 19, 2004

But an early favourite was set in Leo's time-efficient office – a stunning piece of cabinetry housing a row of accountants – where Leo bursts out of his cubicle cocoon to win our hearts and Max's too. It was a turning point that made Burlinson shine like a newborn for the rest of the show.
A showbiz saviour to savour.  The Australian.  Author: Lee Christofis.  April 19, 2004
CURTAIN CALL By Raymond Gill, Emma Westwood Date: 20/04/2004  The Age

Brooks thanks a city called `Mel'
How many ways are there to say this is the funniest/wittiest/most brilliant comedy I've ever seen? Too many. The easiest way for the opening-night audience of The Producers to show their appreciation was to leap to a standing ovation. The show's creator, showbiz legend and comic genius Mel Brooks, joined the cast on stage at the Princess Theatre on Saturday night and said of them: ``I wish I could take them all to Broadway but you need them here. This is such a great cast. This is such a great audience. This is such a great continent. This is such a great city . . . starting with `Mel'!"

Outside the theatre, not even a downpour could dampen the spirits of an ecstatic audience made up of politicians (Steve Bracks, Peter Costello, Mary Delahunty, John Brumby), AFL footballers, showbiz veterans (Maria Venuti, Jeannie Little, Patti Newton, Ernie Sigley) and a clone of news readers.

Comedian Magda Szubanski went so far as to say that The Producers was the best show she'd seen. Ever. ``I have never laughed so hard," she said.

At the after-show party in the Grand Hyatt ballroom, attended by many of the show's New York creators, the talk was about the casting of Reg Livermore and Tom Burlinson in the lead roles made famous on Broadway by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Adam Elliot, who recently collected an Oscar for his short animation Harvey Krumpet, said: ``I thought it was a bit weird when I heard Tom Burlinson was playing the role that Gene Wilder played in the (1968) film but he was fantastic."

But judging by the hubbub at the party, the night belonged to Tony Sheldon's star turn as camp director Roger DeBris and Chloe Dallimore's stunning performance as Ulla, the Swedish bombshell.

Burlinson was relieved the night was over but said the preview audiences had been so positive that the cast was confident opening night would be a success, adding: ``Of course, tonight's showbiz audience got more of the showbiz gags." With his wife and children relocating to Melbourne from Sydney, Burlinson said he hoped they were settling in for a long residency at the Princess. The show is expected to run to the end of the year at least, when there are hopes that it will transfer to Sydney, although no contracts have been issued.
Opened Melbourne 17 April 2004. Princess Theatre.
In May of 2003 the formidable combination of SEL & GFO won the fiercely contested rights to The Producers, the new Mel Brooks musical, the most-awarded show in Broadway history, and it has subsequently had its Australian premiere at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne in April 2004.
The Producers, based on the movie that won Mel Brooks an Academy Award, garnered an unprecedented twelve Tony Awards, Broadway’s highest accolade, as well as a record eleven Drama Desk Awards, eight Outer Critics Awards, two Grammy Awards, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.
"This is a wonderful cultural coup for both SEL & GFO", says James Erskine, CEO of SEL. "The Producers has had phenomenal success since it opened on Broadway in April 2001 with a $US38 million advance."
Mel Brooks is acclaimed as one of the world’s most brilliant comic writers, actors, producers and composers. In addition to ‘The Producers’, his many film credits include the classic comedies ‘Blazing Saddles’, ‘High Anxiety’ and ‘Robin Hood: Men in Tights’.
The script for the stage production of The Producers, was co-written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks.
"If a show wins just one Tony Award it is guaranteed a long run on Broadway; to win twelve is just astonishing," says John Frost, CEO of GFO, who himself won a Tony for ‘The King and I’ in 1996. "Even the world’s toughest critics have acclaimed The Producers. In my 35 years in theatre, I have never seen a funnier, more outrageous musical. It has everything and we are delighted to be bringing this most anticipated Broadway hit to Australia", he said.
The plot of The Producers is a masterpiece of brilliant comedy. Down on his luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock and nerdy accountant Leo Bloom hatch the ultimate scam. Raise more money than is needed for a sure-fire Broadway flop and pocket the difference. Their theatrical fiasco, the musical ‘Springtime for Hitler’, unexpectedly becomes a smash hit.
The Producers is a show rich with comedy, music and entertainment and great creative talent.

Legendary theatrical star REG LIVERMORE will play the role of wily producer Max Bialystock. One of this country’s great acting talents, Reg has starred in theatre, television and opera. He has created and starred in his own one-man shows including ‘Betty Blokk Buster Follies’, ‘Wonder Woman’, and ‘Wish You Were Here’. He was the original Australian Dr Frank’n’Furter in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’,
played the title role in the musical ‘Barnum’ and had starring roles in ‘Hair’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. For nearly ten years Reg was with Channel Nine’s ‘Our House’ and he recently starred in Opera Australia’s ‘Iolanthe’ in a sell-out season.

TOM BURLINSON, who has been a major force in theatre, television and film in Australia and overseas, plays Leo Bloom, the other half of the charismatic duo in this irreverent, raucous musical. Tom played the title role in the feature film ‘The Man from Snowy River’ and other film starring roles include ‘Phar Lap’ and ‘The Man from Snowy River II’. He provided the voice of Frank Sinatra in the mini-series ‘Sinatra’ and also the Australian feature film ‘The Night We Called it a Day’ and his creation ‘Frank - A Life in Song’ has been a huge hit. His theatrical successes include the starring role in ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’, Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and he played the leading role in the acclaimed workshop production of the Australian musical ‘Miracle City’.

"When Reg and Tom auditioned for Mel Brooks and the New York creative team, they were knocked out by their talent," said John Frost (GFO). "Mel said they were perfect for the roles he had created and said that being funny was something you either had, or hadn’t; you couldn’t fake it. And he saw in both Reg and Tom a special quality that not only makes the roles knock-em-dead funny but also very likeable characters," he said.

Australia’s best-loved television star BERT NEWTON will bring his magic to the role of Franz Liebkind, the wild-eyed author of the surprise musical hit ‘Springtime for Hitler’. Bert’s theatrical hits have included ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Cogsworth in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (for which he won a Mo Award) and the acclaimed role of Uncle Max in ‘The Sound of Music’. Bob Hope described him as one of the best television performers in the world and his outstanding career has been recognised by an incredible collection of awards including 15 Logies (6 Gold).

Playing the role of larger than life director Roger De Bris is TONY SHELDON, a third-generation theatrical star who has won plaudits for his great roles in ‘Torch Song Trilogy’, for which he won the Variety Club Heart Award and Green Room Award as Best Actor, ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ and ‘Fame the Musical’. He also won a Green Room Award as Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for
‘Falsettos’ and although best known as an actor and singer, Tony has a string of credits as a writer and director.

The role of Ulla, the 6ft-tall sexy Swedish producers’ assistant has been won by CHLOË DALLIMORE. Chloë’s career has been a series of great highlights but this is the big one. She started classical ballet training at age four, went to London at age 17 and won the Dame Anna Neagle scholarship. She studied for three years to gain her BA in Performing Arts and returned to Australia for ‘Crazy for You’ to play the role of Betsy. David Atkins’ ‘Sweet Charity’ followed, then ‘Chicago’, playing Mona and under studying the lead role of Roxy Hart, which she performed on many occasions. She performed in the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics and toured Australia in ‘Annie’. Her most recent role was in ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Playing the role of Roger De Bris’ flamboyantly gay assistant is GRANT PIRO, a brilliant young actor whose plaudits include a Green Room award for Best Male Artist in a Featured Role for ‘The Merry Widow’ and an AFI Best Actor in a Television Drama nomination for ‘Janus’. His many theatre credits include Ira Stone, a character based on Mel Brooks, in Neil Simon’s ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ for the M.T.C., ‘Pravda’, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘Hello Dolly!’. Grant most recently appeared as Adam Harfield in Network Ten’s comedy/drama ‘CrashBurn’.

James Erskine (SEL) says, "We have gathered the perfect cast to star in this great hit, THE PRODUCERS. And everything you have heard is true! Mel Brooks has put the comedy back into musical comedy and we look forward to a great Australian season."
On this page you will find articles and reviews that are about Tom and his role of Leo in the Australian production of The Producers. I have uploaded dozens of reviews, articles and pics on the show itself and the cast to the MSN Group Producers In Oz  HERE
Opened Brisbane 19 March 2005 to 30 April 2005. Lyric Theatre.
Opened Sydney 26 May 2005. Lyric Theatre, Star City.