Writer: Mel Brooks
Music &Lyrics: Mel Brooks
Director: Matthew White
Musical Supervisor &Director : Andrew Hilton
Choreographer: Lee Proud
Reviewer: Sheila Stratford
The Producers is based on Mel Brook’s Academy Award winning motion picture of the same name. It has been a runaway success on Broadway and the in West End, winning 12 Tony Awards and 3 Olivier Awards. From start to finish, this is a show which has the audience in fits of laughter.
The once famous Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Cory English) has just had another disastrous flop when he meets the timid, naive accountant Leo Bloom (Jason Manford). Leo muses that ironically Max could make his fortune by producing a sure fire failure, instead of aiming for the next Broadway smash. Max runs away with the idea of producing the worst show ever, and persuades Leo to help him. When the show is forced to close, the idea is that Max and Leo will be able to pocket the money from Max’s financial backers (a legion of duped little old ladies) and escape with the money to Rio, Brazil.
The very worst, most offensive play they can find to produce is Springtime for Hitler by Franz Liebkind (Ross Noble), a crazed Nazi sympathiser. Next the pair enlist, in their eyes, the worst director Roger De Bris (David Bedella) to direct the show. When Franz breaks his leg, Roger ends up acting the rôle of the Führer with a most camp interpretation. Is the show doomed to failure as it’s Producers hope?
The show is packed full of comedy, songs and dance routines. Everything is larger than life and hugely exaggerated. It is certainly not for the politically correct. It is disrespectful throughout.
Cory English is superb as Max. His antics on stage with the little old ladies, whom he seduces for financial backing, is side-splitting. He brings a huge amount of energy and exuberance to the rôle and does not fail to wow and delight the audience. His quick fire rendition of events as he sits on the toilet awaiting trial is hilarious and is delivered with technical excellence.
Likewise the comedian, Jason Manford as Leo Bloom is excellent. He is not only funny but is a good singer and dancer. He and English make a great team and complement each other in their riotous antics.
Of course there is romance along the way with the seductive and innocent Swedish Ulla (Tiffany Graves) who Max and Leo employ as their receptionist/ secretary. Graves is simply wonderful as she floats about the set, apparently oblivious to her seductive powers. She is able to be graceful and sort of gawky at the same time – something which is mesmerising to behold.
The audience in Leeds loved Roger De Bris (David Bedella) the very camp director and his assistant Carmen Ghia (Stephane Anelli). The two are priceless to watch as they strut about the stage during the auditions, the rehearsal scenes and the performance of Springtime for Hitler.
This action packed show is complemented with a most talented and funny supporting cast. They dance, sing and perform a variety of rôles, helped of course with perfect timing from the accomplished musicians.
Not a family show, The Producers is certainly an irreverent take on some issues. It is ‘seaside postcard humour’ with classic stereo-types, but essentially is simply silly and very funny.
Runs until: Saturday 13th June 2015
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan