Curtain falls after only a month for British actor parachuted into Broadway's top role

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The Independent Culture

The British actor who amazed America by being given the lead role in the most popular play on Broadway has left after one month.

Henry Goodman, who has starred in productions as diverse as the musical Chicago and Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in Britain, was said to have been "too serious" for The Producers, a stage version of Mel Brooks's 1968 musical comedy film.

Although ticket agencies in New York were still selling tickets giving Goodman star billing last night, his producers and agent confirmed he would be replaced today in the role of the corrupt producer Max Bialystock.

The decision will be a disappointment for an actor who has a string of awards for acclaimed stage performances in Britain.

In the UK, many would recognise Goodman's face through television work such as the BBC comedy Unfinished Business, although perhaps not his name.

But in the United States, where Goodman was almost completely unknown, there was general amazement when he secured one of the biggest parts on Broadway.

He was cast after Susan Stroman, the hit show's director and choreographer, saw his manic West End performance as the control-freak Labour spin doctor in the comedy Feelgood and decided a British actor was exactly what she wanted.

Goodman said at the time: "The press have gone nuts about it in New York. It is very exciting. It is so unusual in Broadway musicals for an English actor to jump into an American production, especially one as popular as The Producers." But despite good early reports, the American press claimed yesterday that in his determination not to emulate Nathan Lane, who had won a Tony Award for his performance, Goodman had made the character "too serious and brooding".

An unnamed source deemed him "not a musical comedy star", even though he had won rave reviews for his performance in Chicago.

Ms Stroman announced that the real-life producers of The Producers had decided they wanted a different kind of performance.

"I have the utmost respect for Henry Goodman. He is a wonderful actor and I would happily work with him again on another project," she said.

"Henry has been very well-received by audiences nightly, but the producers have decided to pursue a different quality for the role."

Brad Oscar, who was nominated for a Tony Award – America's Oliviers – for his portrayal of Franz Liebkind in The Producers, will take over in the part of Bialystock. He had previously understudied for the role, stepping in on more than 70 occasions in the last year.

The Producers created records for ticket-pricing on Broadway with the best seats going for more than £340.

The show features Adolf Hitler as a song-and-dance man, dancing Nazi stormtroopers and the number "Springtime for Hitler".

Yet the Brits can still hold their heads high on Broadway this season. Trevor Nunn's production of Oklahoma!, which started out at the National Theatre, is now trying to outdo The Producers as the hottest ticket in town.

And both Jude Law and Eddie Izzard are tipped to transfer their London productions of, respectively, Dr Faustus and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg to New York later in the year.

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