A Year with “The Producers”

Actor/singer/dancer Jeffry Denman has appeared as an ensemble player in the Broadway musicals How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Dream, and Cats, as well as The Producers. In The Producers he played several supporting roles including a blind violinist, a little old lady who tap dances with her walker, and an actor auditioning (poorly) for the role of Hitler. In A Year With The Producers Denman offers a professional insider’s perspective on every aspect of The Producers, from auditions through previews, promotional appearance, opening night, and the triumphant Tony Awards ceremony where the musical won a record-breaking twelve awards. Denman also offers a look at the personal side of a Broadway actor’s life, from his relationships with other performers to his choice of jobs and his disappointment when particular opportunities fall through.

Denman understudied several roles in The Producers, notably Matthew Broderick’s starring role as the nerdy accountant Leo Bloom, and during the musical’s first year appeared as Bloom in four performances. Denman’s account resonates with soaring emotions held in professional check, as he invites reluctant casting directors to the shows, rehearses briefly with star performers Nathan Lane and Cady Huffman, and responds to his colleagues and the audience during the performance.

Denman is frank about his reservations when some elements of the show seem awkward and describes the ongoing tweaking that can go into even a brief bit of the performance. His diary conveys both the intense joy of performing and the strain of professional competition and rejection. A Year With The Producers is an entertaining read for any struggling performer or fan of the performing arts.