Saturday, January 28, 2012

'The Producers' at Arts Ed

The Producers has been one of my favourite musicals ever since I saw the 2005 film starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick but I had not seen the show on stage before. Some people who are not that keen on theatre have pointed out that the film is rather long-winded and not that much happens in it. I am inclined to agree but I think that's why it works on stage. I have also seen the original non-musical film from 1968 and even though I thought Gene Wilder was very good as Leo, the film was not really my piece of cake. There is something I like about the musical version. Anyway, I think the plot is brilliant and the script is hilarious and that gives a great end result.

The Producers on Broadway 2001-2007
Short plot summary for those who are not familiar with this musical: 
Max Bialystock's days as Broadway's best producer seem to be over as he yet again fails to put on a successful show. However, Leo Bloom, an accountant whose secret dream is to become a producer, enters and realises a producer could make more money with show that flops than one that is a hit. Max and Leo embark upon a project of finding the worst script, the worst director and the worst cast possible in order to produce a sure-to-be flop.

I take a weekly musical theatre class at Arts Educational Schools London and this is where I heard that the final year BA Musical Theatre students of the school were putting up a production of the show. Of course I wanted to see it! 

I was amazed by the detail of the set and costumes (they even had moving pigeons :P)  The cast was fabulous of course. Student productions are lovely to watch because you can really feel the enthusiasm of the cast. I particularly liked the guy who played Leo and the guy who played Roger de Bris (the gay director). The girl who played Ulla (the hot Swedish receptionist whom Max and Leo hire and whose accent most certainly is not Swedish) had a great voice and the fact that she was taller than both of the leading men made her a spot-on choice for the part. I was slightly disappointed that one of my favourite songs in the film, Betrayed, was not in this stage production at all. Also one of my very favourite lines ("She painted over the numbers!") had been cut out. 

Springtime for Hitler was fabulous though. In fact, thinking about it, that song is among my favourite musical theatre tunes. It is such an incredible ensemble number (oh, speaking of the ensemble, before I forget: in this production, even the male members of the ensemble played little old ladies in that group number :D) and magnificent in terms of costumes. It was most certainly more impressive live than on film. 

I felt that seeing The Producers live made me pick out things, in the dialogue especially, that I have not given attention to before (watching it extracted many more laughs from me than the film has ever done so far). 

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