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From the book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan and adapted for the stage by Brooks, the musical was a terrific hit on Broadway, generating a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. Brooks’ genius is overwhelming with even his music and lyrics working a treat – again something that many lack (witness the dismal Brighton Rock at the Almeida).
Set in America in 1959, the story tells the tale of two Broadway producers who try to make a fortune by getting old ladies to back a musical spectacular which the pair are privately convinced will be a flop. Unfortunately for its schemers, Springtime for Hitler works wonders on its audience.
The stars of the show are undoubtedly Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock and Lee Evans as Leo Bloom. Nathan Lane was made for this role and deserves every penny he is being paid. One can only thank god that Richard Dreyfuss was ousted from the part. He could never have had the stamina to hold it together. A Bialystock without a Lane is like a musical without music — inconceivable. So hurry to The Producers whilst he is still in it.
Evans is equally as terrific. From the moment he arrives on stage, the audience warms to his presence and gives him an encouraging clap. By the end of the show one realizes that this is well-deserved as he has certainly carried off his part as the nerdy accountant and wannabe producer with tremendous energy and charm.
Other highly notable performances include Leigh Zimmerman as the very tall, Swedish Ulla, Nicolas Colicos as Hitler loyalist Franz Liebkind and James Dreyfus as Carmen Ghia.
Susan Stroman’s polished direction and choreography of the show is exquisite. She ensures that every scene and each character is a perfect fit to the production. All 19 scenes are totally engaging and it is impossible to pick a favourite. These are aided by Robin Wagner’s stunning sets.
For just under three hours, there was barely a moment when The Producers did not have its audience smiling or roaring with laughter. As the packed Drury Lane emptied, it was impossible to find a punter without a wide grin. Now that’s the secret of a hit.
Give yourself a treat and buy the hottest ticket in town before it’s too late.
Sharon Garfinkel © 2004
Originally published on R&V 15-11-04
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Great review! I never saw the show on Broadway, but in LA I got to see Jason Alexander from “Seinfeld” and Martin Short perform it and it was terrific!
I never got to see it but I’m happy to have the film to watch!