Review Roundup: THE PRODUCERS by Repertory Philippines

Manila, December 6, 2013--Carlo Orosa (Max Bialystock), Robie Zialcita (Max Bialystock), Topper Fabregas (Leo Bloom) and Giselle Tongi-Walters (Ulla) star in Repertory Philippines' 76th theater season final offering, Mel Brooks' "The Producers," which runs at Onstage Theatre (2/F, Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas corner Legaspi St., Makati City) until Sunday, December 15.

Adapted from the 1968 film of the same name, "The Producers," the post 9/11 Broadway musical comedy, was written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with songs arranged by Glen Kelly and Doug Besterman.

According to production notes, "Its story follows two Broadway producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Its humor draws on ridiculous accents, homosexual stereotypes and Nazis, along with many show business in-jokes."

Now let's hear what the critics had to say:

Vladimir Bunoan, Compared to the stage magic of "Cinderella" and the creepy set of "The Addams Family," Rep's "The Producers" seemed quaint and small. The painted backdrops appeared deliberately frugal and one can only imagine how numbers like "Springtime for Hitler" would look like on a giant stage with a large cast.

But the simple staging of director Jaime del Mundo does not get in the way of one's appreciation of the musical. Not when you have a cast this game to please the audience. The chorus, though small, had to take on multiple roles - the men even dressed up as oversexed grannies in the group number "Along Came Bialy" - but managed to stay energetic throughout the fast-paced show...

Those who have seen "The Producers" on Broadway may be disappointed with the local version's design shortcomings but it's such an enjoyable musical that you'd still find yourself thoroughly entertained.

Karen A. Pagsolingan, Pep.Ph: If you need a break from all the not-so-good-news on TV or the stress and strains of work, go watch The Producers.

It is modest in terms of production value, but marvelous as far as talent inflow.

Forget about the grand sets, the 23-piece orchestra of the original Broadway staging, and the full of frills costumes.

The heft of this Mel Brooks musical is in the performances -with each actor having a moment of pure comic genius.

Very crucial, of course, is the role of Max Bialystock, now world-famous because of the Broadway icon Nathan Lane.

Repertory Philippines rightly pickEd Carlo Orosa for the role. On cue, the 49-year-old actor impressively transformed himself into a dubious and dirty-old-man Broadway producer!

Zsarlene B. Chua, BusinessWorld: Rep's production, directed by Jaime del Mundo, is a rousing success because of a mixture of great casting and excellent direction. One honestly cannot go from a minute to the next without a chuckle or a guffaw...

Orosa's unapologetically crude and desperate Bialystock is a character you either hate or love but will laugh at nonetheless, and Fabregas as the hysterical, socially awkward, I-wanna-be-a-producer Bloom completes this screwball comedic duo.

(Audie) Gemora showed off his acting chops as the flamboyantly gay De Bris. It was so easy to enjoy his performance because it was apparent to all that he was enjoying himself.

Renz Emmanuel Raquion, Manila Bulletin: The talented ensemble is one of the strengths of this production. Zialcita is perfectly cast as Max Bialystock, wonderfully thrilling theater goers with his perfectly pitched opening number, "The King of Broadway." His partner in crime, Fabregas, gives a gleeful, vigorously physical performance that showcases his exceptional comic timing and serious vocal chops.

G Tongi is all wide-eyed goofiness playing Ulla, the Swedish vixen who complicates the relationship between the two partners.

The marvelously scandalous closing number "Spring Time for Hitler" sees an outrageously camp Führer take the center stage.

"The Producers" isn't the kind of show that teaches everyone a special lesson. It celebrates the fact that musicals don't always have to be serious and straightforward, they can be artificial and comical.

Even so, "The Producers" doesn't disappoint. Gorgeous costumes, respectable set design and smooth choreography bring it all together, assuring nothing but child-like glee to everyone in the audience.

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