The Producers. Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks. Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Directed by Rachael Beck. Musical director: Ewan. Choreographer: Rachel Thornton. Dramatic Productions. Gungahlin Theatre. Until October 26. Tickets: stagecenta.com.
Cast all prejudice aside when you walk into the Gungahlin Theatre to see Dramatic Productions' Canberra production of Mel Brooks's The Producers.
In an era of closely scrutinised political correctness, one might be easily offended by a musical about Adolf Hitler with swastikas boldly displayed on banners.
The Me Too movement casts a new light on the exploitation of doting elderly ladies by has-been producer Max Bialystock (Daryl Somers) and his lascivious ogling of sexy blonde Swedish secretary Ulla (Demi Smith).
Accountant Leo Bloom (Jason Bensen) inadvertently stumbles on a plan to defraud Bialystock's ladies by staging a musical destined to close on opening night. It's a foolproof plot to swindle investors and then abscond with the money to exotic Rio.
Bialystock and Bloom team up and seek out the worst script they can find, by devoted Hitler devotee and pigeon breeder, Franz Liebkind (Zach Drury).
They employ gay transvestite director Roger De Bris (Paul Sweeney) and his high camp companion, Carmen Ghia (Jake Fraser). What could possibly go wrong?
Certainly nothing with this production. Rachael Beck directs her first musical with the assured eye of an experienced and highly regarded musical theatre performer.
She has chosen the principals and the ensemble carefully and the result is another theatrical triumph for Dramatic Productions and real-life producer Richard Block.
Musical director Ewan conducts an accomplished orchestra with absolute precision.
Familiar melody lines drift through a variety of numbers echoing composers Bart and Wagner, Lerner and Loewe and Gershwin to name but a few.
Choreographer Rachel Thornton gets the best from her ensemble with a diverse array of dance styles from tap to waltz to Jewish horah.
Thornton's zimmer-frame routine by Bialystock's geriatrics is a hilarious highlight of a show that sparkles with every moment.
The title number of the play within the play Springtime For Hitler is an absolute showstopper.
And keep an eye out for Liebkind's performing pigeons, Liebkind's Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop, De Bris's Keep It Gay and Ulla's When You Got It Flaunt It.
First there was Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Then there was Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. And now there is Daryl Somers and Jason Bensen.
Straight man Somers and funny man Bensen are a double act worthy of the best in vaudeville. A newcomer to Canberra, Benson is outstanding as the accountant with chronic anxiety disorder.
Straight man Somers and funny man Bensen are a double act worthy of the best in vaudeville.
The Producers is more than a musical about fraudulent producers, crazy Nazis or parading gays.
It is a musical about friendship and the responsibility that comes with true friendship. Somers' downcast Bialystock is a powerful image of pure pathos.
The show is laced with Jewish humour, schmaltz, satire and top-notch performances.
Beck and her creative team have staged Mel Brooks's musical to lift the spirits, split your sides with laughter and heartily applaud the remarkable musical theatre talent in Canberra.