Hey, Mr. Producer
Mirvish Productions announced casting last week for the Canadian premiere production of the musical The Producers , and in the key role of Max Bialystock - played by Zero Mostel in the film and Nathan Lane in the Broadway show - is comic and former NOW cover boy (February 3, 2000) Seán Cullen . "It's almost a natural progression," Cullen told us, about his graduation to musical theatre after 15 years in the biz, first in the musical comedy troupe Corky and the Juice Pigs, then as a solo act. Music's always been part of his comedy - one of his signature bits includes a hilarious improvised song about food and death.
Cullen inked a one-year contract for the show, but that won't prevent him from flying to L.A. to tape his regular gonzo interview segments for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno . As for last year's promising The Seán Cullen Show , it got the axe after losing a third of its budget to CBC cuts, but Cullen will tape a holiday special this fall from his hometown, Peterborough.
Cullen admits it's daunting following in the footsteps of Mostel, Lane and Jason Alexander, who recently debuted in the role in L.A.
"But what I worry about more is the physical execution, singing this thing 250 million times in a year."
Long-running shows can be anathema to comedy-trained performers, who thrive on newness.
"Co-star Michael Therriault and I are already talking about ways of keeping it fresh," he says. "We're going to amuse ourselves. It's about having fun with the other cast members as much as it is for the audience."
The Producers begins performances November 21 at the Canon Theatre. 416-872-1212.
Usually it's the actor who gets ideas from the playwright. Here, it's the other way around. Michael Healey 's Plan B - which premiered at the Tarragon the season before last and won a Dora for best new play - opens tomorrow night at Calgary's Alberta Theatre Projects, with the writer taking on the role of the head anglophone politician who's negotiating Quebec's separation from Canada. Peter Donaldson premiered the role at the Tarragon, and the quality of the actor's work didn't escape Healey's eye.
He plans to steal freely from Donaldson's performance, Healey admitted before leaving for Calgary.