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Sadly, closed early, due to a COVID-19 lockdown.

BWW Review: THE PRODUCERS: A MEL BROOKS MUSICAL at ARTS Theatre Reviewed by Ewart Shaw, Saturday 17th July 2021.

Toss a coin. Heads; stay home in the warm. Tails; trek into town in the cold and damp to the Arts Theatre for the Marie Clark production of Mel Brooks's The Producers, the stage version of the musical, based on the 1967 movie. I had to toss that coin three times before it came up tails.

You don't have to be Jewish to love Mel Brooks. There's maybe a slight advantage but we are so accustomed to American Jewish humour that, when we get it, we get it good. He's on record as saying that humour was his only weapon against Hitler. He even plays him in the 1983 movie, To Be or Not to Be, another show about theatre workers standing up to the Nazis, that time, in Warsaw. Check out his Hitler rap on Youtube.

An almost full house at the Arts, masked and COVID aware, had a great time because this production really delivers. Director, Matt Smith, has attracted a very strong cast for this show and his teammates are very capable. Musical Director, Serena Cann, draws on her years of experience on stage to connect really effectively with the cast. You just know she'd have loved a few more strings to fill out the orchestral sound, and Mike Lapot, choreographer, newish to Adelaide (funny you don't look newish) kicks of with a hora-inspired round dance and really puts the cast through their paces.

Smith doesn't push the Yiddishkeit. That is a word, look it up. The queeny gay stuff is also muted by Barry Hill's dignified Roger deBris, dowager to the fingertips.

Pulling back on the cultural stuff emphasises the universality of the tale. Max Bialystock is a Broadway producer down on his luck, raising money for his work and lifestyle by trading sexual favours for elderly wealthy widows, who reward him with cheques made out to cash. Sam Davy is so convincing, charming, venal, and ambitious.

His new accountant is called Leopold Bloom. Leo to his mother, and yes, this is an odyssey of sorts, of risky ventures and dubious machinations. A Homer run? Nineteen-year-old Kristian Latella is a real find. He has presence, can deliver a laugh line, and I thought of a production of How to Succeed in Business, in which he'd feel quite at home. Davy and Latella are a team to admire.

The love interest, Ulla, is Lucy Trewin, voluptuous and imposing. She also has a strong and vibrant soprano voice with excellent top notes. There's fine work also from Ben Todd as Carmen Ghia, Roger's offsider, and a real treat with Angus Smith as Franz, the Nazi-sympathising pigeon-racer. Smith is a stalwart of musical theatre in Adelaide, always turning in a fine evening's work, and matinees too. Der Guten Tag Hop_Clop is a treat. The chorus, predominantly female, is strong, and the dancing old ladies, with their Zimmer frames, really effective. Two people stand out. Tracey Bassham is one of Bialy's conquests. They're known by their intercoital exclamations and she's 'hold me touch me', a real spark of energy. Lachlan Washusen sprawls across the gender line, as a chorine, and is totally engaging as the stormtrooper who leads Springtime for Hitler.

Sadly, the new lockdown, though it may protect us in the future, has really terminated so much. I'm really pleased I took myself out on Saturday.

There was something that niggled, no nibbled, at the back of my mind and then Bialy and Bloom wrestled each other over ownership of the two sets of accounts. Bialy and Bloom? Trump and Weisselberg. I feel a libretto coming on.

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