As an actor, there is nothing like playing a leading role in a hit Broadway musical. Add to that having the chance to perform the role in front of a hometown audience, filled with family and friends, and you have the story of Stacey Todd Holt, who will play Leo Bloom, the budding theatrical producer in Mel Brooks' hit musical, The Producers when it plays the Fabulous Fox Theatre January 25 - 31, produced by Theater of the Stars. I had the chance to talk to Stacey about his Atlanta roots, his long-time professional relationship with Susan Stroman and what exactly made him "Want to be a Producer".
BWW: Can we start by hearing a little bit about how you got started in the theatre? You are an Atlanta native, correct?
I am an Atlanta native, outside of Atlanta, actually, Fairburn. I began when I was younger with a small dance company there. My best friend was taking dance classes and her Mom asked me to come along. It was a tap class and I was fascinated by it, so I just had to do it. That was with Doris Russell who was an original Rockette. That led to getting involved with a theatre company in Fairburn called the Southside Theatre Guild. They were doing House at Pooh Corner and were looking for someone the actual age of Christopher Robin, so Ms. Russell told me I should audition, and I got the bug from that. From there, I continued dance classes and it wasn't until high school at Woodward Academy, when I met Linda Wise, who had just come from Rockdale County, that I really knew what I wanted to do. I had heard about Linda and I went to the Governor's Honors Program where she was on faculty. I remember going up to her and saying "You're coming to my school and I am very excited!" That started a whole new world for me, as far as really pursuing theatre in college and I think she saw that and steered me where I could make that decision myself. I chose a four-year conservatory program in St. Louis (Webster) and at my senior showcase I got good bites and headed to New York.
And you have performed at The Fox before, correct?
I came through with the first national tour of Crazy For You. I have played The Fox in St. Louis a few more times than the one in Atlanta, though. At the time I played The Fox in Atlanta with Crazy For You I was a swing, and never really scheduled to be on, but the company knew it was my hometown so they swung me out and I got to choose the ensemble person I wanted to go on for. It was almost like the Fox sold out that night. My Mom arranged to get tickets for everyone she knew for that one night!
And this production of The Producers is not your first, right? You were in the show on Broadway?
I was. I did it for 6½ years on Broadway. I was a swing and then I covered the roles of Leo Bloom and Carmen Ghia as an understudy. I was also Matthew Broderick's stand-in for the movie which ended up being a truly amazing experience. The stand-in for Nathan and I were beneficial to the camera people and others -we would watch the scene setup and they would set up the camera shots with us. We would end up doing a full shoot in a lot of cases. They would call all the extras down or the co-stars and we would do the full scene with them to cut down on the number of takes with Matthew and Nathan. For me it was the closest way I could ever be cast in a major motion picture! There was one number, "I Want to Be a Producer" that in the movie is like an MGM fantasy sequence. Stroman wanted to achieve it in one take, so to get to do something like that was a highlight for my career.
Did you ever get to work directly with Mel Brooks?
He was around, and there were times when you stayed out of the way, and others where if you could you try to pick up on any information you jumped at the chance. He is a very passionate man in terms of his work and he's a genius in many ways when it comes to timing and wording of a sentence, if you add one extra word it will destroy the joke or the rhythm of the line. The man has everything memorized in his head so if you add anything he will not be happy - he doesn't want you to kill the joke! That is why Nathan was so brilliant. He understands comedy and timing so well.