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July 15, 2009 > "The Producers" Really Produces

"The Producers" Really Produces

Tony award winning musical still a mega hit in Newark!

By Marty Friedman

When Mel Brooks came up with the idea behind The Producers, he must've been thinking of the old Jewish saying: "Man plans and God laughs."

It's fiendishly brilliant show. Max Bialystock, a down and out Broadway producer and Leo Bloom, his meek accountant, plan to produce a sure-fire flop: "Springtime for Hitler." It's so bad they expect that they will not have to reimburse the show's backers: a group of sex-starved little old ladies.

One riotous scene leads to another leads to another and their 'can't miss' flop turns into a mega-hit leaving Bialystock and Bloom with a choice: return the money to the backers or pocket it. Or... in the case of Bloom, run off to Rio with his Swedish Marilyn Monroe clone.

How riotous? The non-stop loonies keep arriving and the wild laughter from the audience keeps coming.

Max and Leo are joined by a whole crew of crazies including Ulla, the Swedish bombshell, Franz Leibken, the crazy playwright, Roger DeBris, the vain drag queen, singing and dancing Hitlers, the little old ladies and many more.

This was not some local production put on by a bunch of amateurs. This "Producers" was absolutely the equal of the legendary musical that opened on Broadway in 2001. That show won 12 Tony Awards, breaking the record for the largest single day box office gross: over three million dollars. (This reviewer saw the Broadway version when it opened.)

What a shame they don't give a Tony for best local theater. The cast and crew of the Stage 1 production running through July 25 would've won it hands down!

With apologies to Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, stars of the original Broadway cast, Doug Santana (Max) and Ron Lytle (Leo) in this production are every bit as hysterical.

Clearly everyone in the very talented cast was enjoying themselves - not to mention the audience who gave the cast three straight standing ovations.

All backed by Musical Director Ken Nadler and his excellent orchestra.

The show-stopper, for this production, at least, was not the "Springtime for Hitler" number in the last act, as good as it was. The moment that stopped the show (honest) was a chorus line of 17 little old ladies doing a frenzied dance, using walkers as props.

Is anything missing from the show? Unlike so many other timeless musicals, don't expect to leaving humming or singing some music from the production. You will, however, leave giggling and guffawing.


All credit to Stage1Theater for something else, too: The Gary R. Flores Memorial Scholarship awarded to a Newark Memorial High School graduating senior every year.


The Producers
Through July 25
Fri & Sat at 8 p.m. (Sun at 2:30 p.m.)
Stage 1 Theater (at Newark Memorial High School)
39375 Cedar Blvd Newark
(510)791-0287
www.stage1theater.org

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