Thanks a Million Adolf! How Broadway Hero Nathan Lane Became the West End's Highest-Ever Earner on [Pounds Sterling]38,000 a Week as Star Of

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 31, 2004 | Go to article overview

Thanks a Million Adolf! How Broadway Hero Nathan Lane Became the West End's Highest-Ever Earner on [Pounds Sterling]38,000 a Week as Star Of


Byline: ANGELLA JOHNSON

BROADWAY star Nathan Lane is set to become the West End's highest-ever earner, on [pounds sterling]38,000 a week, after swooping in at the last minute to rescue the [pounds sterling]5 million musical The Producers.

Lane, 48, is already a millionaire thanks to his award winning performances in the acclaimed New York production - and now his wealth will swell by almost [pounds sterling]500,000 after he replaced Hollywood veteran Richard Dreyfuss, who was dramatically sacked just a week before curtain-up.

Lane has already dazzled preview audiences at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane with his impressive display of singing, dancing and vaudevillian comic timing, earning him five-minute standing ovations from the notoriously tough London theatregoers.

But, we can reveal, it took an astonishing [pounds sterling]100,000 golden hello to lure him across the Atlantic to reprise his muchlauded role as conniving theatrical impresario Max Bialystock. On top of that, he will receive a salary of [pounds sterling]360,000 for the 12-week run, plus a share of box-office takings.

This could swell his fee by a further [pounds sterling]12,000 a week as the 2,200-seater theatre is all but sold out until Lane's stint ends on January 8.

The deal dwarfs the [pounds sterling]7,000 a week his comedian co-star Lee Evans is earning for his role as Leo Bloom, and the [pounds sterling]15,000 Dreyfuss would have received. Yet when the show's director Susan Stroman begged him to rescue the London production, Lane was reluctant to agree. Exhausted and suffering serious vocal cord damage after his first yearlong stint in The Producers, Lane was looking forward to a well-earned holiday in the exclusive Hamptons enclave on Long Island where he had rented a [pounds sterling]1million house.

But when Dreyfuss, who turned 57 last week, was sacked after struggling to master the complicated and strenuous dance routines, Stroman was desperate for a saviour. After all, the show costs [pounds sterling]250,000 a week to stage and needs to play to near-full houses for almost ten months simply to break even. The cost of leaving the theatre dark would have been crippling for investors.

'When Susan called and said she needed me to open the show, I said no,' Lane said. 'But then there was begging and pleading and finally I said OK.'

Stroman confirmed: 'I told him that the London show was in trouble and that I really needed him. He didn't say yes immediately, but Nathan is a trouper and he agreed to help us out. There was a serious possibility that we might not have opened.' Now, thanks to Lane's profile, insiders are expecting to turn a [pounds sterling]200,000 weekly profit, not to mention the healthy income from the bar takings - put at about [pounds sterling]150,000 a week - and the sale of merchandise such as programmes and CDs. …

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