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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Dreyfuss pulls out of Producers
Richard Dreyfuss (l) and Lee Evans
Dreyfuss (left) had been due to star with Lee Evans in the show
Actor Richard Dreyfuss has withdrawn from the UK stage run of Broadway hit musical The Producers.

Dreyfuss, 56, had been due to star in the Mel Brooks show when it opens in London's West End next month.

It was difficult for him "to fulfil the rigours of the role", a statement said, blaming recent back surgery and a shoulder injury.

The part of Max Bialystock will now be filled by US actor Nathan Lane, who won a Tony award on Broadway for the role.

Lane is booked to appear "temporarily" until 8 January.

Dreyfuss, star of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, won the best actor Oscar for the 1977 film The Goodbye Girl.

In a statement about his departure, the show's producers said the actor had surgery for a herniated disc in January and suffered from a recurring shoulder injury.

Richard Dreyfuss
Dreyfuss recently said he did not plan any more films
"It has become increasingly difficult for Mr Dreyfuss to fulfil the rigours of the role, and it is with regret that both parties have had to make this decision," the statement said.

"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."

Based on Brooks' 1968 movie of the same name, The Producers - about the worst musical ever written - had required Dreyfuss to sing and dance with co-star Lee Evans and at one point do both with a chorus line.

The actor recently joked during rehearsals that his body was suffering from the demands of the part, saying: "The trouble is I'm not actually here. I am here in London but my body hasn't actually arrived yet."

On ITV1's Frank Skinner Show last week, Dreyfuss even joked that the show - due to open at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 9 November - was not ready for the public yet.

"The Producers opens November 9th. Come from Christmas on. Do not come before that, okay? The general manager just had a heart attack when I said that," he said.

"Actors don't like people to come straight away. It's too stressful - wait till we have fun, then come."

He recently announced he was not planning to make any more films because he had "lost the habit" for movie acting.

"I've made 40-plus films and there are only four I didn't enjoy, and, without denigrating it, I want to do something else," he said.

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