BWW Reviews: THE PRODUCERS - All It's Cracked Up to Be
Having never seen The Producers, but having heard so much about it, I was genuinely excited to see a performance of this show on a stage. The lasting impression that I took from The Production Company's version is that Mel Brooks is one very funny man who's writing stands alone in the musical comedy genre. Whether on the expanses of a full scale broadway stage, on the West End or on the minimalist stage confronting us at The Arts Centre, this show genuinely works and is so clever in its nuance and wit that you can't help but admire its creator.
The show centres around three protagonists, the schmaltzing scheming theatre producer Max Bialystock, his eventual partner in crime accountant Leo Bloom and their common love conquest Swedish bombshell Ulla. Bloom discovers that it would be possible for a broadway producer to make more money by putting on a flop of a show rather than a sure fire hit so the boys start their journey finding and producing the worst possible musical they can find. Settling on Springtime For Hitler and Germany, what ensues is a riotous journey to get the show mounted as quickly as possible and as badly as possible so that it closes as quickly as possible to maximise the earning potential for Bialystock and Bloom.
Bringing Mel Brooks' writing to life was a cast of very talented performers led by Wayne Scott Kermond as Max Bialystok. Kermond grew exponentially likeable from the opening, culminating in his genuinely committed performance of betrayed...the need for ad lib in the middle of this song though was a little puzzling as it halted the momentum he had built masterfully, evaporating the instant the fourth wall was broken. Nonetheless his performance was genuinely and thoroughly executed. Trevor Ashley as Springtime for Hitler And Germany's writer Franz Liebkind was overwhelming in his performance. It was very big and very funny albeit slightly one dimensional. Christie Whealan-Browne as Ulla had everything her character needed...great legs, great dancing and a great belt. Stealing the show though was Mitchell Butel as Roger De Bris, the flamboyant director of Springtime for Hitler. His performance was inspired and multi-faceted and captured the essence of The Producers especially in the musical highlight of the night Keep It Gay. Some wonderful ensemble work and brilliant cameos were also a feature of this show that kept it rollicking on at a cracking pace throughout.
Special mention to Orchestra Victoria under the guiding baton of the gorgeous Vanessa Scammell who accompianed the show delicately and beautifully. If you get a chance to see The Producers you must, it is a wonderful night of musical comedy and you are guaranteed to laugh and to thoroughly enjoy yourself. It is musical comedy at its best and is wonderfully told by a cast of very talented and committed performers.
The Arts Centre State Theate Melbourne