Monday, June 2, 2008

The Producers

My review of The Producers appears in this week's Westender.

The Producers
By Andrea Warner
279 words

Mel Brooks has always tackled the taboo. His keenly astute appreciation for satire marched over the boundaries of good taste in 1968, when his film, The Producers, envisioned a hoofing Hitler with a song in his heart. In 2001, The Producers came to Broadway, tauter, tighter, and with lots more T&A. Now the Tony-award smash hit high kicks it’s way to Vancouver, and it feels just as frenzied, funny, and freshly shocking as ever.

The Producers is deliciously daring in its unbridled enthusiasm for dirty jokes, sweeping caricatures, and playful winking at show business. Charming shyster and failing Broadway producer, Max Biaylstock (Jay Brazeau) and the meekly nebbish accountant Leo Bloom (Josh Epstein) discover that in the right circumstances, a producer can make more money on a flop than with a success. They hit the poor-taste jackpot with ex-Nazi, Franz, whose Spring Time for Hitler aims to show the softer side of the war criminal.

The cast is fantastic. Jay Brazeau and Josh Epstein as Biaylstock and Bloom offer plenty of chemistry as they fully embody their campy and nefarious alter egos. Jackson Davies is furiously funny as the pigeon-loving, knock-kneed, Hitler enthusiast Franz. Terra C. MacLeod is a revelation as Ulla, the Swedish bombshell who woos Bloom.

The choreography and costumes transcend the confines of the Stanley stage, and create big scale productions that are innovative and hilarious. Particularly, the slew of little old ladies armed with walkers in “Along Came Bialy” and the fetish-wearing spectacular “Springtime for Hitler” are brilliant. Every stereotype meets its match in glorious song and dance extravaganzas: Gays, Nazis, show biz types—no one’s feelings are spared on this stage. Thank God.

No comments: