The return of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick to the roles they created in ''The Producers'' created a ticket-selling frenzy on Sunday, the likes of which haven't been seen since -- well, the last time Lane and Broderick did the show. According to the New York Times, with the release of tickets for Lane and Broderick's 14-week return engagement, the show broke the Broadway record for one-day sales by moving $3.5 million worth of ducats. The previous record, at $3.3 million, was set in April 2001, the day after Lane and Broderick first opened in the show.
Based on the Mel Brooks film farce, ''The Producers'' earned a record 12 Tonys and scored top sales during the year Lane and Broderick spent in the starring roles. Since then, the Times reports, lesser-known actors have meant houses filled to only 75 percent capacity. But when tickets for Lane and Broderick's return (which begins Dec. 30) went on sale Sunday, people lined up at the St. James Theater and around the block, starting at midnight and waiting up to 18 hours.
Many of those on the sidewalk were ''line-sitters'' whom scalpers had deposited by the vanful, ''Producers'' producer Richard Frankel told the Times. Blocks of tickets found their way into the hands of scalpers, who promptly turned around and offered them at many times their face value (the box office sold most seats at between $30 and $100, with VIP seating going for $480). For the New Year's Eve show (which includes a gala dinner and a view of the Times Square festivities), tickets that had a face value of $1,500 were offered for $4,999 on eBay late Sunday. Sell a handful of those, and you could earn enough to produce your own Broadway show.