After Max and Leo do Der Guten Tag Hop Clop with Franz, Max tries to pull open the door. When it doesn't open, he shouts, "We're trapped!". This is an inside joke from the play's run in England. One night, a stage hand had locked the door. When Nathan Lane (Max) tried it, he realized it was locked and shouted out, "We're trapped! Trapped like rats with a crazy Nazi!" A stage hand then went up and unlocked the door and they got out.
Ernie Sabella, appeared in a number that was cut out where Bialystock and Bloom go to the bar during intermission to celebrate their flop: "Barkeep, drinks all around!" This would have the voice actors who spoke Simba, Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King (1994) on screen together.
This is a movie about a play based on a play about a play based on a movie (The Producers (1967)) about a play. In fact, however, Mel Brooks originally envisioned this as a Broadway play. Published accounts in 1966 reported that Brooks was working on a comedy play with the title "Springtime for Hitler," and his original choice for the part of Bloom was going to be Paul Anka.
The phrase "It was shocking, outrageous, insulting... and I loved every minute of it!" from a supposed review of "Springtime for Hitler", was a rewording of an actual review by Peter Sellers written about the original movie The Producers (1967).
When Max is visiting the old ladies in their apartment buildings, he pushes lots of apartment call buttons. Among the list of names are A. Bancroft, a tribute to Anne Bancroft, director Mel Brooks' late wife; M. Kaminsky, which is Brooks' birth name; and J. Gatsby, the main character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.
The screech of the black cat who is thrown by Bialystock into the theater and the voice of the Stormtrooper who sings, "Don't be stupid, be a shmartie, come on join the Nazi Party" in the song "Springtime for Hitler" are provided by Mel Brooks, two roles he also prerecorded for the Broadway show and one (the Stormtrooper) that he did in the original movie The Producers (1967). It's also a line from the 1983 single "To Be Or Not To Be - Hitler Rap".
In the final frame of the finale the camera pulls out for a wide shot of the theatres and their marquees displaying the titles of the shows that Max and Leo are to produce. On the far left is a portion of the marquee belonging the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The only letters that are visible are A-N-N-E for Mel Brooks' late wife Anne Bancroft who died prior to the film's completion.
The original Broadway production opened at the St. James Theater on April 19, 2001, ran for 2502 performances winning a record-breaking 12 Tonys including the 2001 Tony Awards for the best musical, book and score.
The line about a 'banana-coconut suncream, number 15' was initially an improvisation by Matthew Broderick uttered in the court scene. It cracked everyone up, so the take was ruined, but evidently the film makers liked the line, as it was inserted into the postcard narration instead.
There really was a Hamlet musical. And it really was a flop. It was called "Rockabye Hamlet", starring Larry Marshall as Hamlet and Beverly D'Angelo as Ophelia. Cliff Jones wrote book, lyrics and music; Gower Champion directed and choreographed. It lasted for seven performances at the Minskoff Theatre in 1976.
During the song 'Springtime For Hitler', Hitler mouths "I love you all" and sits on the edge of the stage to sing the next part of the song. From this moment onward, he performs with a distinct similarity to Judy Garland's performances in both her concerts and her TV specials.
Uma Thurman was doubled during portions of the dances by Angie L. Schworer who was playing the part of Ulla in the Broadway version of "The Producers" during production of this film. Kathy Fitzgerald played the role of Shirley Markowitz both on stage and in the film version.
The King of Broadway, the second number following Opening Night, one of the most famous of the songs and the number that introduces the Bialystock character, was cut out. This song also includes the famous Mel Brooks line from History of the World: Part I (1981): "It's good to be the king!"
The costumes for the Girls in Pearls weighed 20 pounds. The largest of the pearls are plastic grapes painted white; they were chosen not to reduce the weight but to make it more comfortable for the dancers when they had to roll on the floor.
Nicole Kidman was originally considered as a possible Ulla. Matthew Broderick allegedly offered her the role while they were filming The Stepford Wives (2004) together, to which she immediately said yes without seeing so much as a first draft of the script. Kidman subsequently backed out of the project, feeling she was working too much.
Brad Oscar, who plays the taxi driver, was the original Franz Liebkind in the Broadway version. He also played Max Bialystock both on Broadway and in London after Nathan Lane departed the role in both cities.
Originally, this was almost shot in Toronto, Canada. New York State tax incentives made it possible for the production to film in New York City at the new Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. Producer Mel Brooks also jokingly complained that the bagels in Toronto were "too mushy".
According to director Susan Stroman, the outdoor scene where Max tries to convince Leo to join his scheme had to be moved to the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park from the Revson Fountain at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, because this version of the film was set in 1959, not 1967 like the original movie The Producers (1967), and the Lincoln Center wasn't built until 1964.
Being the first major film shot in the new Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, NY, the crew had to endure the completion of construction. The studio was only 90% complete when they moved in and there were still leaks in the roof. The crew made suggestions such as expanding make-up rooms. The suggestions were acted upon and the crew finished with resounding success in the new stage.
The character Carmen Ghia is a reference to the Karmann Ghia which was a sports car marketed by Volkswagen, designed by the Italian Carozzeria Ghia, and built by German coach builder Karmann. Karmann Ghias were produced between 1955 and 1974, and were based on the familiar Beetle chassis with its rear-engined, air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine.
When Max opens the cabinet with the pictures of his show contributors you can allegedly see pictures of the old ladies from the original movie version The Producers (1967) although the veracity of this is debatable.
Leo Bloom daydreams that there will be a holiday called "Bloomsday" after him. This was a gimmick in "Ulysses" by James Joyce. Leo Bloom's name is taken from Leopold Bloom, main character of that novel.
Three songs from the Broadway show were cut: "King of Broadway," "In Old Bavaria" and "Where Did We Go Right?". The second act reprise of "Opening Night" was also cut, as were sections of "Along Came Bialy". Despite "Where Did We Go Right?" being cut, the reference to this song in the recap in "Betrayed" remains.
The first line of a rejected play that Max Bialystock reads, "One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke up he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant cockroach" is a reference to Franz Kafka's short story, The Metamorphosis.