Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Directed by John Pacheco
Co-Producers John Pacheco and Donald D’Haene
Choreographed by Mel Stewart
Musical direction by Marque Smith
Performed by Bill Hill, Andrew Tribe, Dean Greer, Jordan Henry, Laura Giberson, Nate Crocker & ensemble
McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London
December 1 to 11, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
I Wanna Be A Producer
The Producers won a record-breaking 12 Tony awards when it opened on Broadway in 2001 – it’s a big-time musical with a large cast of singers and dancers, and lots of Mel Brooks’ silliness. So when I heard it was going to run in the McManus studio under London’s Grand Theatre, I simply couldn’t picture this big show doing well in a small space.
But somehow, they pull it off. They have assembled a good cast of very funny people.
Bill Hill has channelled Nathan Lane in his portrayal of Max Bialystock. He has excellent comedic timing and he received spontaneous applause for his solo where he reiterates the story thus far. Andrew Tribe is the perfect Leo Bloom. Tribe grows with the part, from awkward and neurotic to confident and controlled on his return from Rio.
Jordan Henry as the crazy Nazi Franz Liebkind has excellent comedic timing, and manages not to be upstaged by his very clever collection of pigeons. Dan Greer is outstanding as Roger Debris, as is his sidekick, Nate Crocker as Carmen Ghia. The two of them plus all the Village People are fantastic together.
Laura Giberson has the perfect innocent eyes and stage presence for the role of Ulla. Her sweet voice and delightful dance moves are excellent. But unfortunately, she can’t sustain the belting after she announces “Now Ulla belt”.
The ensemble of chorus girls and guys are all in fine form, and appear to be having a whole lot of fun.
Costumes are fantastic. From all the little old ladies in the matching dresses and wigs dancing with their walkers, to the show girls in the famous “Springtime for Hitler” song – the giant sausage, pretzel, beer stein, and horned hat. The attention to detail in the clothing is to be commended.
For some of the numbers, the band was a little too loud at the preview I saw, and we were unable to hear the singers’ voices, as there was no amplification. I assume that’s been improved.
And unfortunately, as I first feared, the tight quarters at the McManus studio are the main drawback of the production. The show slowed, just because of the time it takes to move sets around in the crowded space. Unfortunately, the script demands frequent set changes, and in this case, they hold up the action. However, I am hopeful that the cast will be able to speed up over the run of the show. Nevertheless, a larger venue for a show with so many set changes and such a large cast should be considered.
The Producers is rude, crude, socially unacceptable, and politically incorrect. But hey, so is Mel Brooks and he gets away with it by being very, very funny. Kudos to this cast for keeping it funny! And thank you to the producers Donald D’Haene and John Pacheco for producing The Producers!
The Producers continues at the McManus Theatre downstairs at the Grand, in London until December 11. Tickets are available at the Grand box office at 519-672-8800 or 1-800-265-1593, or visit www.grandtheatre.com .