Entertainment » Theatre

Stacey Todd Holt :: From ’Swing’ to lead in ’The Producers’

by Dee Thompson
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Tuesday Jan 29, 2013
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Stacey Todd Holt, the Georgia native who plays Leo Bloom in the new Theater of the Stars production of The Producers, has come a long way from his early days, learning to dance from a former Rockette. After nearly 15 years in New York, he can sing, dance, choreograph, even direct -and he really swings.

Literally, since it is a theatrical term he’s been associated with over the years.

I asked him about being a "swing," since it was a term that was unfamiliar. He explained that when the program lists him as "swing" it means he has to be ready at a moment’s notice to do anything. That is, fill-in for any role.

"Swing is responsible for the longevity of my career. I’ve been listed in a lot of shows as swing/understudy/dance captain and that means even when I’m not onstage, I’m watching from the wings." He has to be ready to fill in for anyone who is out.

A veteran of more than a dozen Broadway shoes, including "Elf," "Crybaby," "Big," and "Contact" [no, not based on the Jodie Foster movie], Stacey has spent a lot of his professional life onstage.

It’s a big responsibility, but Stacey can handle it. He studied at Webster Conservatory in St. Louis and graduated with a B.F.A [Bachelor of Fine Arts] in 1989. He headed to New York. By 1992, he was on Broadway in a production of "Crazy for You."


He has worked steadily ever since.

From 2001 until 2007 he was in "The Producers," singing, dancing, and swinging in many different roles, and understudying Matthew Broderick.
His co-star in this production of "The Producers" is Michael McCormick, who plays Max Bialystock, the unscrupulous theatrical producer who schemes to create Broadway’s biggest flop - a musical bio of Hitler replete with goose-stepping chorus girls - to swindle his investors. Mel Brooks based his musical, for which he wrote the score and co-wrote the book, on his cult 1969 movie that starred Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Opening on Broadway in April of 2001 with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, it won 12 Tony Awards and ran for some 2,500 performances. Lane and Broderick repeated their roles in the 2005 film version, directed by the show’s director/choreographer Susan Stroman.

Stacey also worked with co-star McCormick on the movie. They became friends and spent a lot of time together, but they were in the background, not the spotlight.

Finally, two years ago, Stacey and McCormick were asked to play Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom at the North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh, an experience Stacey calls "a blast." The familiarity and friendship forged on the movie set helps when they are acting together. "I trust him with anything and he trusts me with anything," Stacey says.

Stacey’s partner of 12 years is a sound engineer, John Dory. They met on a production of the dance play "Contact" (a dance musical conceived and staged by Stoman that won a Tony for Best Musical in 2000). They live in New Jersey and have two dogs, Lily and Lucy, both rescues. That relationship keeps Stacey from taking roles that will keep him on the road for long periods of time. As he has segued into middle age he has settled down, and domesticity is very attractive now.

I had the chance to talk to Stacey recently, and it was a singularly delightful experience.


EDGE: You’ve done several shows that were originally movies ("Elf," "Big," "The Producers"). Does that make it easier to connect with the audience, or harder?

Stacey Todd Holt I believe it’s a little more challenging. Everybody who has seen the movie has an opinion and they’ll either agree with you or they won’t. You’re limited because you can’t do the things onstage that you can do in movies. You can’t open it up to all those different locations.

EDGE: How can you describe Leo Bloom, and your relationship to that character?

Stacey Todd Holt I really enjoy playing him because you can do this crazy, punch-in-the-gut-type humor but you have to ground him in reality. Where the humor works is in the journey, when the audience sees the real characters change.
EDGE: Most stage actors have a pre-show routine, a ritual to get them ready to perform. What’s your routine?

Stacey Todd Holt This particular show starts off with a big production number, "The King of Broadway." I like to go up onstage and feel the energy and be with them.

EDGE: "The Producers" is at the fabulous Fox Theatre, a huge theatre built nearly a hundred years ago. Will the sheer size of it affect your performance?

Stacey Todd Holt When the Fox was built, it had to accommodate many events in the entertainment business. It is a majestic theatre and at times intimidating. You have to accept (as an actor) that some of your nuances may be missed but you can’t change your whole performance.

EDGE: Did you ever see Gene Wilder’s Leo Bloom in the original movie of "The Producers?"

Stacey Todd Holt Yes. I love the movie. Gene Wilder was brilliant. I also love what Matthew brought to Leo (in the Broadway production). I learned through trial and error that I had to make the role my own.

EDGE: How can you describe Leo Bloom, and your relationship to that character?

Stacey Todd Holt I really enjoy playing him because you can do this crazy, punch in the gut type humor but you have to ground him in reality. Where the humor works is in the journey, when the audience sees the real characters change.

The Producers runs though January 31, 2013 at the Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA. For more information, the Fox Theatre website.


Dee Thompson is a writer and author of three books and writes a popular blog called The Crab Chronicles. She lives in Atlanta with her son.

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