May 18, 2010

Star in Racine Theatre Guild's 'The Producers' overcomes broken foot to make opening night

Daniel Martino (left) and Joseph Cardamone (right) in the Racine Theatre Guild's show, "The Producers."

Many theater puns apply to the opening weekend of the Racine Theatre Guild's production of "The Producers," but which is the best?

There's the obvious: "break a leg." Or the philosophical, "Life imitates art." Or the chivalarous: "The show must go on!" All fit the run-up to the RTG's major musical production, which hit a snag worth of, well, a Mel Brooks' show. Let's start with ...

Break a Leg

Actor Daniel Martino (right), who plays Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane in the movie and on Broadway), took the traditional theater saying, used in place of "good luck," which is considered bad luck, literally. He broke his foot during a dress rehearsal five days before the show's Friday opening. Doctors told him he'd have to be off his foot for two weeks. Martino gave the hairline fracture two days, and didn't miss a rehearsal.

Co-lead Joseph Cardamone, who plays Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick in the movie and on Broadway), quipped that Martino "sat out rehearsals - literally." While Cardamone danced and moved around the stage, Martino spoke and sang his parts in the audience. (Cardamone said it was odd feeling to act without "Max" by his side. "I learned what it must be like for the folks in the Star Wars movies," he said. "I had to act without someone there.")

'Life imitates art'

If you want to sound smart, utter this philosopher's line in any situation and people will assume you know something. But in this case, life really did imitate art, in this case, theater.

In "The Producers," which is about a musical within the musical, the lead actor in "Springtime for Hitler," named Franz, breaks his leg on opening night. He has no understudy and the show appears doomed (don't worry, no more spoilers).

While Martino didn't break his foot on opening night, it might well have been. With just five days to opening, the production had no understudy for Martino, who twisted his ankle backstage running for a quick costume change. "Max" is on stage for nearly the entire production, and Martino's preparation would have been irreplacable.

"We were all on pins and needles waiting for the diagnosis," Cardamone said.

The irony of the accident wasn't lost on the cast, he added. In the show, Leo says to Max, "Franz plays Hitler, Max, and he has no understudy."

After Martino's accident, Cardamone said he had hard time not saying to director Doug Instenes, "Dan plays Max, Doug, and he has no understudy."

The show must go on!

Martino took this one to heart. Ignoring doctor's orders, he strapped a boot-cast on his foot and was back on stage in two days.

"It was very clear that nothing was going to prevent him from performing," Cardamone said.

Instenes and the production crew tweaked a few scenes to help Martino get around on his foot, made an announcement about the boot on Martino's foot before the show and, well, the show went on.

Cardamone said he barely noticed a change in Martino's performance. "I'm not sure anyone had any real concern about it," he said. "Short of something that would literally render him incapable of doing it, I suspected he would move heaven and earth to be there."

Show times

Martino, Cardamone and the rest of the cast are back on stage this Friday at 7:30 p.m. "The Producers" at the Theatre Guild runs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday through May 30.

There are also shows at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 22; 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 23; 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 27; and 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 24.

The adult ticket price is $18 for 7:30 p.m. shows and $16 for all others. Discounts are available for seniors, subscribers, groups and students; however, it is not suitable for young children. “The Producers” earns a PG-13 rating, due to its bawdy and satirical humor.

Box office hours are 12 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 90 minutes prior to curtain through intermission at performances. Advance reservations are highly recommended. For tickets, call 262-633-4218 or order online at


  1. Cute story but I really think "break a leg" should be taken as a saying not an order. That is putting your sole, I mean soul, into the part.

  2. Yes, it is a 'saying' and it does refer to 'putting your soul into the part. "Break-a-leg" originated in the early days of theater when actors would enter the stage in front of, or between two of the "legs" (which is the name of one of the curtains used to frame the acting area). They were, in essence, "breaking the leg" (curtain). Having said this, I am confident there are many other stories about "Break-a-leg." Have fun!