JULIUS D’Silva is proud of the fact that he’s bringing a little bit of anarchy to Manchester’s Royal Exchange over the festive period.

A renowned Shakespearean actor who has performed many times with the RSC, Julius is being called on to show a totally different side as would-be Broadway impresario Max Bialystock in the riotous comedy musical The Producers.

Based on the movie and award-winning theatre show by Mel Brooks, The Producers follows Max and his accountant Leo Bloom played by Stuart Neal, who decide the way to make their fortunes is to stage the worst musical in history.

“It’s a show which has this tremendous sense of anarchic fun,” said Julius. “Mel Brooks is in love with Broadway and in love with showbusiness as a whole and that really shows. There is quite a lot of slapstick comedy.

“In many respects, Max and Leo are like an old school double act from the days of vaudeville. There are also echoes of the silent movie era with the likes of Laurel and Hardy.”

For The Producer to work - and work it clearly does with rave reviews and the run being extended into February - the relationship between Julius and Stuart has to be totally convincing.

“We had never worked together before,” said Julius. “When that’s the case, you always wonder how the relationship is going to develop. Thankfully Stuart is an exceptionally generous actor and a pleasure to work with.

“When you have two characters, it can be a tug of war on stage between people. But not only does he come up with great ideas, he’s so adaptable. You always hope you will be working with someone who will catch the ball that you throw.”

The Producers marks Julius’ second appearance at the Royal Exchange this year, having starred in The Cherry Orchard in May.

“I’ve waited 25 years to be invited to play here and now I’m back again so soon,” he laughed.

The Producers is a completely different proposition to Ibsen’s classic play. For a start it’s a musical.

“I’ve done three musicals in my career before this,” said Julius, “and I’m finding now that I’m taken relatively seriously in both areas which is a rare bird. I think it’s unfortunate that people don’t step between the two worlds more often. There is a sense of ridiculous snobbery about musical theatre amongst some parts of the more straight or classical theatre and a fear of straight theatre or misunderstanding by some musical theatre people.”

Julius got a baptism of fire for his first musical role, playing Mr Bumble in Scrooge in London’s West Eden alongside Rowan Atkinson.

“That was an absolute juggernaut of a show,” recalls Julius. “It was absolutely terrifying. It was my first musical and as Mr Bumble I was the first adult to sing on stage. It was a heck of an introduction into the world of musicals.”

To help him play Max, Julius admits to channelling several influences.

“There’s definitely a bit of Groucho Marx there,” he said. “But really all of those Jewish New York comedians come to mind, including Mel Brooks himself. Even Joan Rivers has been influencing me a little.”

The unique layout of the Royal Exchange adds an extra challenge to both the cast and the production team alike.

“In some respects it’s not that different from the Globe or the new Swan Theatre,” he said. “It’s all about using the space to its fullest potential. You can’t lose touch with people who are behind you.

“The wonderful thing about the Royal Exchange is that the production becomes much more of a shared experience. If you’re on the stage at Drury Lane you can see a few people beyond the orchestra pit but that’s it. After that there’s a black chasm.”

Julius actually lives in Germany with this wife and son and when he’s not acting he lectures in Shakespeare and is a workshop leader for students learning English as a second language.

“They will encounter Shakespeare eventually and that’s where I come in,” he said. “Unlike me, my wife has a sensible job - she’s a teacher - but the good thing is she will be coming over for Christmas with my son. He’s a huge football fan so I’ve already booked tours of Manchester United and Manchester City for him and my wife’s going to love the shopping because we live in a very small village. I get the feeling it could get very expensive!”

Julius is loving every minute of being in The Producers.

“I think people come along are expecting a good time and by God they are going to get it,” he said. “It’s hilarious, anarchic, the dancing is wonderful, the music is tremendous, the singing is great and how our designer Ben has managed to get this enormous Broadway musical into a 750-seat theatre in the round is genius.”

The Producers, Royal Exchange Theatre, until February 2. Details from 0161 833 9833 or www.royalexchange.co.uk