That is a picture I took of the dancing old ladies from The Producers, while at the Lakewood Fourth of July Parade.
Today kiddies we have a review of The Producers being performed at The Beck Center for the Arts
It’s 1959, and a new musical by Broadway producer Max Bialystock flops, closing after just one performance. Just as Max is ready to throw in the towel he is given a gem of an idea by mousy accountant, Leo Bloom, who discovers that under the right circumstances, a producer can actually make more money with a flop than with a hit. Max convinces Leo to enter a scheme to produce the worst flop ever, Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgarden, and bilk investors to the benefit of Max and Leo’s bank accounts.
The play is of course based on the classic Mel Brooks’ 1968 cult comedy film, The Producers and was a HUGE (read chick that played precious sized) hit on Broadway, winning a record 12 Tony Awards.
Now that the little bit of synopsis is out of the way I can get on to the review. All around my review is completely positive. I have a few instances where I thought the production wasn’t as good as some of the others ones I’ve seen at the Beck.
Thank you Mother in Law!
Ahem yes back to the show. The actors (a veritable army of them) bring a glorious amount of energy and the comedy seems truly inspired. The large company is wonderful together, with hilarious production numbers such as the “Along Came Bialy,” which features 16 old ladies dancing with their walkers and draws the first Act to a wonderful close.
Max and Leo are assisted by aspiring actor and Swedish knockout Ulla (played to a cutesy tee by Betsy Kahl). Then we have the “cuddly” Nazi Franz. The role is enveloped and excellently played by Gilgamesh A. Taggett. He provides constant funnies as he is being wooed by the two producers. Max and Leo seek the “help” of Roger DeBris “the worst director in town” to ensure the play’s demise. Kelly throws himself into the role of the flaming queen director. Roger DeBris is an egomaniac that is lovingly and hilariously aided by his assistant Carmen Ghia. Chris Richards tiptoes the line of over the top as the wacky sidekick.
This brings us to the two main roles. First we have Leo, the mousy and wimpy accountant. He dreams of being a producer of Broadway plays. Brandon Isner makes Leo every bit the wimp the character should be. He is fragile and in need of coddling.
I find a slight (very slight) flaw with Max played by Mark Heffernan. He plays the role with energy and is charming. The problem I had was Heffernan’s acting lacked the neuroses that encased the producer’s cartoonish sleaze and greed. This causes the character to lose its teeth this way. Overall though I have no problem with him and the play only suffers slightly because of it.
I found the costumes and set to be a bit dull compared to other productions at the Beck. This however changed with the second act. The costumes and set for the show stopper “Springtime for Hitler” were amazing. The number is over the top wrong and yet so so right. DeBris forced last minute into the role of Hitler tries (and fails hilariously so) to play it straight. These are truly the brightest and funniest moments of the entire production.
And now a rant:
The show was wonderfully done and highly entertaining. The audience I had a bone to pick with though. There were all sorts of people talking and getting up loudly during the show. A lady behind us continually complained that she felt it was to “sexy” for her taste. I can only gather that she meant sexual. She spent two minutes talking about the outfit of Ulla. Throughout the show there were a couple of people who continually opening their cell phones.
Don’t even get me started on how easily audiences these days give standing O’s. This crowd was this way too, though I like the curmudgeon that I am refused to stand.
The final weekend is this weekend (8/20-8/22)
Friday and Saturday: 8pm
and Sunday at 3pm
Buy tickets here