Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Producers"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"The Producers"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Company Theatre's summer show is the Broadway sensation "The Producers". Based on Mel Brooks' Academy Award-winning 1968 film, this bawdy musical is the story of down-on-his luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, a mousy accountant. Together they hatch the ultimate scam: raise more money than needed for a sure-fire Broadway flop and pocket the difference. The "sure-fire" theatrical fiasco is none other than the musical "Springtime for Hitler" written by neo-Nazi, Franz Liebkind, an ex-Nazi storm trooper. The Hitler show tells the story of his rise to power in song and dance. Max and Leo are convinced they have found a show which is bound to offend everyone. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show is accessible to a wide range of audiences and draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis, as well as many show business in-jokes. It also has Nazi-arm-band wearing pigeons, dancing storm troopers, dirty old ladies with euphemisms such as "Lick-me,Bite-me" and "Hold-me,Touch-me, who do a dance with their walkers and a comical song with the refrain "Don't be stupid, Be a smarty, Come join the Nazi party!" The musical first opened on Broadway on April 19, 2001 and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record breaking 12 Tony Awards. This version is splendidly directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman. They not only direct and block the show wonderfully but chose topnotch performers to fill these roles. Sally Ashton Forrest supplies the inventive and fantastic choreography for the show while Michael Joseph not only conducts the 21 piece orchestra but taught the cast the intricate harmonies which they show off with their powerful voices. Company Theatre is known for doing a magnificent job on epic musicals and this one is no exception to that rule. This musical is sure to offend anyone without a funny bone and bring child-like glee to everyone else. To quote "Springtime for Hitler", the audience is sure to leave the theatre feeling "Happy and Gay". This version is the must see show of the summer season.

Zoe not only directs this show wonderfully but comes up with many hysterical moments while Jordie and her crew build gorgeous. Michael's orchestra is topnotch and he makes the incredible voices of the cast soar in their solos, duets and group numbers. Sally's dance numbers are spectacular including tap dance, kick-line, a conga, a hora and a dance with walkers that is hilarious. This musical is set in 1959 and leading this cast of madcap and larger than life characters is David Daly as Max Bialystock. Max is known as "The King of Broadway" who has directed nothing but flops for quite a few years including a musical version of "Hamlet" called "Funny Boy". The show just closed and the audience leaves the theater calling it a piece of shit. The Company Theatre audience is sympathetic to Max and his crazy shenanigans as he sings "The King of Broadway" where he reminisces about the old days and in "We Can Do It" which he sings in counterpoint with Leo Bloom- Step 1 Find the worst play ever written, Step 2 Hire the worst director in town, Step 3 Raise two million dollars, Step 4 Hire the worst actors in New York and open on Broadway, Step 5 Before we close on Broadway, take our two million dollars and fly to Rio. David gives a tour-de-force performance as Max reminding you of Nathan Lane. His show stopping song near the end of the show, is "Betrayed" where he sings snippets of every song up to that point in the show because Max feels Leo has left him to rot in jail. This song is reminiscent of "The Legacy" from "On The Twentieth Century". While Max waits for the little old lady he stupps before he takes her money, in walks accountant, Leo Bloom who is excellently played by Steve Shannon. I reviewed in this role at Bay Colony in 2009 and he is even better this time. He is made up to look like the biggest nerd in the world. Leo carries a small blue security blanket around with him like Linus from Charlie Brown. Both Steve and David have fabulous voices and are expert comedians. Leo realizes his life is going nowhere as an accountant in the song "I Wanna Be a Producer" where he does a superb dance with gorgeous chorus girls which stops the show. Together with David, he brings the house down with "We Can Do It" when they decide to team up and again in "Where Did We Go Right?" when the show is a success instead of a failure. The most sentimental song in this show is their duet "Til Him" when Leo returns to help Max at his trial. They both go to prison for five years and create a show there for the convicts called "Prisoners of Love" where they dance around in prison garb. A happy ending finds Leo and Max arm in arm as they walk off into the sunset like Rose and Louise at the end of "Gypsy" or like Georges and Albin at the end of "La Cage Aux Folles". Bravo to both actors on a splendid job in demanding roles.

Max and Leo finally find an author of the worst show ever, Franz Liebkind excellently played by Evan James. He gets to show off his terrific voice in "Old Bavaria", "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop", Hitler's supposed favorite song and "Haben Sie Geohoert Das Deustche Band?" as Franz raises his index finger, Max and Leo give him the middle finger. To betray Hitler says Franz is punishable by death as he constantly threatens them. Sally's dance is hilarious as Franz slaps Leo around in it. He appears later winning the role of Hitler, only to break his leg, threatens Max, Leo, Roger and Carmen with a gun, is arrested and sent to Sing Sing. I last reviewed Evan as Jacob Marley in "A Christmas Carol'' at Company Theatre last year. After they secure the author they go down to the townhouse of Roger De Bris, the worst director in New York and a flamboyant homosexual to boot. Played excellently with high camp by John King who has a dynamic baritone voice. He wears a hilarious evening gown that looks like the Chrysler Building and a tiara as well as a long red wig. His "Springtime for Hitler" as Hitler is hilarious as he comes down the stairs, speaking to the audience and then confronts Stalin, Churchill and FDR while prancing around the stage. John and his conga line are hysterical as they introduce themselves, Brendon Cawley is Bryan the set designer, Zach Boulay as Kevin, the leather wearing costume designer,Cooper Jordan as Scott the choreographer who wears tight spandex outfit with a constant hard on in it and Julie Dennis as the glum lesbian lighting designer, Shirley. (She plays many roles in this show including one of the old ladies, the homely chorus girl, the piano player and bag lady at the start of the show.) Another show stealer in a show of scene stealers is Matt Maggio as Carmen Ghia. His outfit is a hoot as is his dragging out the s at the end of his words as Leo and Max enter the apartment and he exits with limp wrists garnering much laughter. Matt and John's antics as this couple make for some laugh out loud moments. They also sing "It's Bad Luck to say Good luck on Opening Night" with Dave and Steve. Another standout performer is gorgeous Adrienne Paquin as Ulla. She is a tall, statuesque brunette bombshell who wears a platinum wig for this show and Leo and Max lust after her. Ulla auditions for them with a song called "If You Got It, Flaunt It" and boy has she got it! I last reviewed Adrienne as one of the two ladies in "Cabaret" for Bay Colony in 2007. She does an excellent dance to this number doing a split at the end and during the second act, she sings a tender duet with Steve called "That Face" when Leo falls in love with Ulla. They do a splendid dance ala Fred and Ginger during it as well as a comical bit behind the sofa coming up in different positions. A word of praise to Matt Maggio as the leading tenor who sings "Springtime for Hitler", the most well known song in this show. The dirty old ladies are lead by Julie Dennis as Hold-me-touch me, who with the other old ladies do a dance with walkers that stops the show in "Along Came Bialy" to end Act 1. She also has a hilarious scene with David called the milkmaid and the well hung lad. This show is filled with many show stopping moments, so run do not walk to the box office to see "The Producers". Tell them Tony sent you.

"The Producers" (30 July - 22 August)
THE COMPANY THEATRE
@ 30 Accord Park Drive. NORWELL MA
1 (781)871-2787(ARTS)

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