Music &Lyrics: Mel Brooks
Book: Mel Brooks &Thomas Meehan
Director: Matthew White
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
Adapted by Mel Brooks from his own 1968 Oscar-winning movie, The Producers proves to be just as much a winner as it was when it first appeared on stage in 2001,accumulatingas it did a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards.This brand new production with a dream central casting ensuresthat the laughter shows no sign of stopping.
The premise is as simple as it is preposterous: Broadway producer Max Bialystock’s glory days are behind him, but when naive accountant Leo Bloom arrives on bis doorstep, opportunity knocks. Bloom is a frustrated producer and when he mentions in passing that Max could make more money from a flop than a hit, the pair team up to present the worst play ever written.
Utterly, completely and gloriously politically incorrect, this high-octane, sassy satire pokes fun at every Broadway stereotype you might care to think of, but in doing so with affection and heart, gets away with it.
The cast couldn’t be better: Corey English (Max), a veteran of both the West End and touring productions of the show, knows this part from its head to its toes and delivers a stand-out performance that can’t be faulted. The casting of two of Britain’s best-known stand up comedians: Jason Manford as Bloom and Ross Noble as lederhosen-clad, Nazi nutcase and author of the ‘world’s worst play’, Franz Liebkind, may seem at first glance to be shameless star casting but the pair more than justify their presence. Manford is no stranger to musical theatre having appeared in Sweeney Todd with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, and his fine voice is an asset to the production. It must be said though, at the beginninghe appeared less than sure-footed but soon settled into the rôle. Noble though, is a revelation, his maniacal, gimlet eyed turn is accompanied by better-than-good acting, singing and dancing chops.
The trio are more than ably supported by theatre veterans David Bedella as Roger DeBris (a knock-out Hitler in a gold sequinned jacket and leather pants), Stephane Anelli as camper-than-a-row-of-tents assistant Carmen Ghia, as well as a solid ensemble, worthy of note too is Jay Webb’s beautiful vocal on “Springtime for Hitler”.
You really would have to have had a sense of humour bypass not to love it. Who could fail to laugh at songs such as: ‘Springtime for Hitler’, ‘Keep it Gay’ and ‘Haben Sie Gehört das Deutsche Band’? The show endures for good reason, great script, great songs and a big heart. Miss it at your peril.
Runs until Sat 20 June 2015 then touring