NEW YORK – They're coming back!
Nathan Lane (search) and Matthew Broderick (search) - the original and unsurpassed Bialy
That's only about 90 performances, so if you're not racing over to the St. James Theatre right this second, you're probably not going to score a ticket.
Yesterday, Broadway oddsmakers were predicting that Lane and Broderick's limited return engagement would be sold out before noon today.
The producers of "The Producers" declined comment, but John Barlow, a spokesman for the show, said: "The producers and creative team have always maintained that the St. James is a second home to Nathan and Matthew. The producers are in discussions with the actors, but no deals have been signed yet."
Lane and Broderick's return should catapult "The Producers" to the front ranks of the Broadway pack this winter, and will almost certainly generate weekly gross box office receipts of well over $1 million.
Broderick and Lane will also revive the fortunes of the much-maligned Broadway Inner Circle, the company that was selling VIP seats to "The Producers" for $480 while the two stars were in the show. As soon as they were gone, demand for the $480 tickets quickly evaporated.
Once the hottest ticket in town, "The Producers" lost some of its luster when Lane and Broderick left in March of last year.
The attempt to replace Lane with Henry Goodman, a respected but little-known British actor, was a disaster.
Goodman, who couldn't get a laugh to save his life, was fired before his opening night. Steven Weber, who took over for Broderick, wasn't much better but managed to escape the noose.
Goodman was replaced by Lane understudy Brad Oscar, who got good reviews and helped stabilize the show.
But the damage was done: the heat was off "The Producers" and by the fall of last year, it was seldom selling out.
This summer, the show - which currently stars Lewis Stadlen as Bialystock and Don Stephenson as Bloom - has been playing to houses that are about 80 percent full.
At one point, its producers considered dumping unsold tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square. But sales turned out to be stronger than expected, and with weekly grosses averaging about $900,000, "The Producers" has been able to avoid going to the booth.
For Lane and Broderick, a return to "The Producers" should be a triumph in every way.
The last time they were in the show, they each commanded salaries of more than $50,000 a week. They will certainly earn at least that this time around.
Critics will throw them bouquets and they'll receive thunderous standing ovations every night.
Max and Leo will be the toast of Broadway again.