By Jane Wardell
London (AP) -- Broadway star Nathan Lane is dashing over to Britain to reprise his Tony Award-winning role in the London production of "The Producers" after Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss pulled out at the last minute.
The musical's producers at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane said that Dreyfuss was forced to forfeit the plum role of Max Bialystock because of continuing complications from surgery earlier this year.
"Following his surgery for a herniated disc in January and the reoccurrence of a shoulder injury, it has become increasingly difficult for Mr. Dreyfuss to fulfill the rigors of the role, and it is with regret that both parties have had to make this decision," the producers said in a statement.
"The producers are grateful to Mr. Dreyfuss for his artistry and all his work on their behalf, and hope that he will be able to rejoin the company when his physical condition permits."
Lane, 48, will have little time to brush up on his lines. Producers said the show's schedule will remain unchanged, with previews beginning on Friday and the show opening Nov. 9.
They said Lane, who won the Tony for his role in the Broadway version of the Mel Brooks musical in 2001, will join the show on a temporary basis until Jan. 8.
Lane has a prolific record of work on Broadway, including roles in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Guys and Dolls."
However, his inclusion in the cast of the London production of "The Producers" marks his West End stage debut.
Based on Brooks' 1968 movie of the same name, "The Producers," about the worst musical ever written, the show requires the actor playing Max Bialystock to carry out energetic song and dance routines.
Dreyfuss recently explained he took on the challenge to take a break from movies, but also joked during rehearsals that his body was suffering from the demands of the part.
"The trouble is I'm not actually here. I am here in London but my body hasn't actually arrived yet," he said. "But it will. Next week, or next month. Definitely some time before the first night."
Dreyfuss, who won a best actor Academy Award for The Goodbye Girl four years later, made no comment Monday.
The production is being staged in London by Rocco Landesman, Clear Channel Entertainment, The Frankel Baruch Viertel Routh Group, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Rick Steiner, Robert FX Sillerman and Mel Brooks.
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