The Producers (review)

IT is the ultimate bad taste musical and one which takes nerve to stage but the Berkhamsted Theatre Company pulled off a huge success when they performed the comic spectacular at The Court Theatre.

Monday, 28th November 2011, 5:21 pm

Mel Brooks’ offends just about everyone in the story of how a struggling Broadway producer stages a show so awful that it would close on opening night and make his fortune.

Unfortunately audiences lap up Springtime For Hitler, including the Nazi dancing girls, and things don’t work out quite as expected.

So the whole concept required 1) a big stage in which to perform the musical with its huge “Busby Berkeley” dance routines and 2) an enormous cast to play the musical’s performers and back stage staff, a selection of randy, little old ladies wanting to be producer Max Bialystock’s Angels, an orchestra and the key actors.

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Imagine then an am-dram group, with limited resources, putting the show on in a theatre with a more than intimate stage.

Yet, amazingly, they pulled it off in spades. The audience lapped it up from beginning to end. The musical numbers were brilliantly performed and choreographed (particularly the Zimmer Frame routine) and the acting would not have been out of place on a professional stage.

Everyone looked as though they were having as much fun performing The Producers as the paying public were in watching the entertainment. The comedy came thick and fast and left everyone exhausted by the finale.

Stand out performances came from Stephen J Davies in the lead role of Max alongside his nervous (occasionally annoyingly so) young partner Leo Bloom (Craig Allen enthusiastically enjoying himself.) Allen’s solo, I Wanna Be A Producer was slickly performed.

Everyone was trying to make their characters as outrageous as possible (which is easily done as they are written just so) but Iain Fowles as camp, talentless Springtime director Roger De Bris, Kevyn Connett as his PA Carmen Ghia, and Roger’s Village People production team – Andy Faber, Bryan, Scott and Shirley – brought tears of laughter.

This was a tremendous show from start to finish.