BWW Review: THE PRODUCERS at Fountain Hills Theater
February 3rd, 2019 was Superbowl Sunday, a day where most people are gathering around their television's, listening to Gladys Knight sing the anthem, enjoying the showmanship of the halftime show, cheering (or booing) the teams on the field, and looking out for entertaining Superbowl commercials. However, if you're like me and don't have the desire to see your team not play, you may end up looking elsewhere for your fix of entertainment. Fountain Hills Theater's production of The Producers was the perfect fix for my entertainment itch, with a great set and the right amount of well-executed Mel Brooks comedy.
A show about hapless Broadway producer, Max Bialystock (Scott Hyder) and Accountant, Leo Bloom's (Michael Stewart) almost foolproof scheme to make money by intentionally writing a flop musical, The Producers is a belly bursting riot, full of slapstick humor and satire that gets just close enough to the edge to keep you snickering. Hyder and Stewart as the productions dynamic duo are great. Their ability to play off of each other with the timing of comedic bits and overall on stage chemistry was awesome to watch. Hyder was seemingly made for the role of Bialystock. His comedy came across as genuine and natural. However, when it comes to a show-stopping performance, hats go off to Patrick Russo as Roger De Bris. Russo's energy was enthralling, drawing my eye to more than just him in the Chrysler Building of dresses. Erin Ryan as Ulla Inga Hansen Benson was a melodic blend of quirky and sensual. In conjunction with her vivaciousness, Ryan's consistency with her accent was very refreshing.
The star of the show was the beautiful set design. The use of the space and almost seamless set changes were marvelous. Also, with the size of the space, it was nice to have actors off mic and projecting, especially with voices like Chris Fidler, Jacqui Notorio, and other powerhouses strengthening the group. Having said that, there were a few grating places that pulled me out of the magic such as instances where the drops and curtain were flown a bit rough, immediately pulling attention, as well as a few sour harmonies that could easily be due to fatigue. Even with these, I still found myself standing and cheering at the end of this great show.
Fountain Hills Theatre put on a show that was leaps and bounds better than a flopped Halftime show. The entire cast and crew in this piece are amazing and their hard work shines through. The Producers at Fountain Hills Theatre closes on February 17th after adding dates from their original February 10th closing slot. After seeing this show and comparing it to what I heard happened on the field, I definitely know where I went right.