NEW YORK – Max has gotten the ax.
Henry Goodman — the London stage star who replaced Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock in The Producers — was fired from the hit Broadway musical yesterday, The New York Post has learned.
Creator Mel Brooks and director Susan Stroman, along with the producers of the show, were "unhappy with the lack of progress Henry was making in the role," a company member told The Post last night.
Goodman got his walking papers immediately after yesterday's matinee, the source said.
The actor joined The Producers last month, and was due to face the critics May 1.
He will likely be replaced by Brad Oscar, who currently appears in the show as deranged Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind, the company member said.
Oscar was also Lane's understudy.
He played Bialystock — a corrupt Broadway producer who schemes to bilk his investors by deliberately producing a flop show — several times while Lane battled vocal problems.
Goodman could not be reached for comment last night, and calls to the show's publicist and producers were not returned.
But around Broadway this past week, it was an open secret that Goodman, one of England's leading actors, was struggling with the role.
He was, cast members say, determined not to repeat Lane's Tony Award-winning performance and may have erred by making the character too serious, too brooding.
Jokes and gags that produced roars of laughter from the audience when Lane was in the show weren't working anymore, production sources said.
"Henry just isn't funny," one cast member said. "He's a very good actor, but he's very serious. He's not a musical-comedy star."
Other company members complained about a lack of chemistry between Goodman and his co-star, Steven Weber, who replaced Matthew Broderick as mousy accountant Leo Bloom, who helps execute Bialystock's scheme.
"Matthew and Nathan clicked," one cast member said. "It was like a love story. Henry and Steven don't have that warmth."
Weber, who starred in the TV series Wings, will remain with The Producers, a source said last night.
The box office has cooled a bit since Goodman and Weber took over for Lane and Broderick.
The show still grosses over $1 million a week, but seats are available at most performances and the cancellation line that once stretched down West 44th Street from the box office of the St. James Theatre to Sardi's has all but disappeared.
Production sources say many of the $480 VIP seats are being sent back to the theater, where they are being sold for the normal price of $100.
There is even talk of slashing the $480 ticket to $250, production sources said.