June 19, 2009 – With less than an hour before curtain for Mel Brooks’ musical The Producers, actor Ben Dibble sat down with Joel Markowitz backstage at Walnut Street Theatre. Ben is wowing Philadelphia audiences with his gorgeous voice and comedic talents playing the nebishy, blue blanket snuggling accountant and “wannabe producer” Leo Bloom. “It’s a dream come true. I saw the original Broadway cast, and the first time I saw the show, I knew it was a role I had to do.”
Ben has been one of Philadelphia’s busiest musical performers for the past 9 years. Last year at Walnut Street Theatre, Ben was seen in the Barrymore Award winning Best Musical Les Miserables, and this year as Corny Collins in Hairspray. He has done many Sondheim musicals, and enjoys doing children’s theatre where he has played a toad, a dinosaur, and a giant, much to his children’s delight. “The sad truth about children’s theatre is that a lot of times it is underfunded, and there’s not a lot of effort put into it, because people think, “Oh, it’s just for kids, it doesn’t matter.” I believe the opposite. While you are trying to build the audience for tomorrow, you need not to be skimping on production values, or skimping on the talent of the acting, or anything of that nature. I felt that way before I had kids, but now that I have kids, I’m even more passionate.”
Ben’s wife Amy has been the Assistant Artistic Director of The Arden Theater Company for the last 10 years; the day of our interview she resigned from that prestigious company in order to spend time with their three children, which allows for things like their first family vacation – ever – at the close of The Producers.
Ben tells us the unique bits choreographer/director Marc Robin has introduced to the show, “It’s really very much his show”, and how Marc helped them find the heart of the musical in, of all places, The Wizard of Oz.
He tells us about the rest of the outstanding cast, such as Ben Lipitz (Max Bialystock), his good friend Jeffrey Coon (Franz Liebkind), Amy Bodnar (Ula), the outrageous Rob McClure (Carmen Ghia), who DC audiences saw in the National Tour of Avenue Q and Jeremy Webb (Roger DeBris), who we saw in The Visit at Signature Theatre. And, of course, we had to talk about the staging of his big number “I Want To Be A Producer” – wait til you hear the fabulous audio clips we’ve got from that one!
We hope you have a chance to get to Philadelphia for The Producers. Ben returns to Walnut Street Theatre for David Yazbek’s musical Dirty Rottten Scoundrels – he’s got the Norbert Leo Butz role – and Joel will be there to cheer him on!
The Producers continues at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St, in Philadelphia thru July 12th.