BWW Reviews: Ziegfeld Theater's THE PRODUCERS is a Riotous Laugh Fest
THE PRODUCERS at the Ziegfeld Theater in Ogden is a riotous laugh fest featuring performances that are absolutely top-notch. The production is far beyond what such a new community theatre has any right to achieve.
THE PRODUCERS (book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Mel Brooks) was a smash hit on Broadway, with Susan Stroman's production walking away with a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. Based on a 1968 non-musical film, and spawning its own musical film adaptation in 2005, it is a comedic juggernaut. Because the show is rarely produced in Utah, this is a unique opportunity to see what all the fuss is about.
Max Bialystock is a once-successful Broadway producer who is losing his touch...until he comes up with a seemingly failsafe scheme to profit from a flop. He partners with anxious public accountant Leo Bloom to produce what they hope will be the biggest flop in the history of commercial theatre: "Springtime for Hitler."
Cameron Kapetanov as Max Bialystock is a doppelganger for original star Nathan Lane. His comic timing is superb, as are his improvisation skills. To put it bluntly, his voice, mannerisms, and talent make it hard to imagine a better man in the state who could play the role.
Daniel Pack as Leo Bloom doesn't have the same dizzying heights of chemistry with his costar that original star Matthew Broderick had, but he's still great in the part. His character's neuroses are wonderfully played out, and his comedy and dance acumen are crowd-pleasers.
Two men who stop the show every time they are onstage with their strong vocals, hilarious performances, and spot-on characterizations are B.J. Whimpey as German playwright Franz Liebkind and Quinn Kapetanov as Broadway director Roger De Bris. These actors are simply perfection in their roles.
Also deserving mention is talented dancer Talese Hunt, who gives a lovely portrayal of Swedish secretary/receptionist Ulla.
That these five leading roles, so demanding in their specificity, are filled so flawlessly in a small community production is a shock and a delight.
The show's choreography, by Kacee Neff, Rick Rea, and Bailee DeYoung (with some recreated from Susan Stroman's original choreography with permission), is entertaining and complex. It is surprisingly extremely well executed by the non-professional ensemble and is very enjoyable to watch.
This production is far from extravagant, but director Rick Rea and his associates have done a marvelous job creating a functional production design that fills the needs of the show without breaking the bank.
The costumes by Becky Cole are, in many cases, wonderfully designed and crafted, with many creative highlights. However, it is clear that most of the attention has been focused on the most important pieces. Such decisions are unavoidable when strapped with a tight budget, but they leave some of the details lacking, including unmatched clothing worn by the chorus. These small issues could have been remedied without much additional cost.
Another area of needed improvement is the sound balance. The night of the reviewed performance, the accompaniment was unfortunately louder than the performers for most of the songs.
Regardless of these minor quibbles, this production is more than worth your time to see. It is not recommended for children due to its hefty helping of innuendo, double entendre, and language. But the content never crosses beyond PG-13 territory, and adults and teenagers will find it to be an incredibly enjoyable night out.
THE PRODUCERS plays through September 6, 2014. For more information or to buy tickets, call the box office at 855-ZIG-ARTS or visit www.theziegfeldtheater.com.
Photo Credit: L-R Cameron Kapetanov as Max Bialystock and Daniel Pack as Leo Bloom