That's exactly why we want to produce this play. To show the world the true Hitler, the Hitler you loved, the Hitler you knew, the Hitler with a song in his heart.
~ Max Bialystock, The Producers
Breakfast: Special K
The Elegant Gathering
TODAY on DVD
THE BEST SHOW ON BROADWAY!
11 June 2004
"The best show on BroadWAY!"
Thats what all the promos for The Producers which have been airing on our local television stations say, over and over again.
I was ready to be hyped. I was so excited to be seeing The Producers at long last. We missed the opportunity to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, but out here in the hinterland, at least we have the chance to see the touring productions, with Bob Amaral and Andy Taylor in the roles. (Amaral is fresh from playing the warthog in The Lion King and his bio says, "Hey just think about it. It's not such a stretch to go from a flatulent, grub-eating, but lovable warthog to a fraudulent, money-grubbing but lovable producer.")
I know from having seen Sunset Blvd at the London Palladium and then in Sacramento that there can be a great watering-down of the total effect, especially in a show that is scenery-heavy. Modifications have to be made to take a show on the road (it will be interesting to see how Lion King fares next year). Sunset Blvd replaced heavy gold gilded walls with flimsy curtains and it just wasn't the same effect at all.
However, if there are modifications made in The Producers one would be hard put to figure out what they might be.
Opening night was a big media event. There is usually a local radio station which sets up outside the Sacramento Community Center, holds games and gives away prizes, so I expected that. But there were two radio trucks one on either side of the theatre, as well as a TV camera crew and familiar anchor persons all there to catch the ambience of opening night. It is unusual for Sacramento to get such a mainstream, current production this early, I believe.
The attention might also have been due to the fact that The Producers has received more awards than any other show in Broadway history.
One of the nice things about being a critic is that they give you the best seats in the house and then pay you to watch the show. A nice little scam.
Im not sure why--perhaps a greater interest in this show by "imporant people," but while we had expensive orchestra section tickets, they were in row R--previously the farthest back that wed been seated was in about row K.
"Harumph," I thought, as I sat down, though it turned out we seemed to be sitting in "reviewers row," since everyone around me had review packets in hand.
Beggars cant be choosers and I was there for the excitement of the show.
As I wrote in my review, if you had just come off a deserted island and had never heard of this show and didnt know that Mel Brooks had written it, it would only take a few minutes to figure it out. About the time you have nuns and hookers and usherettes and policemen all dancing the hora round producer Max Bialystock you can pretty much figure that Mel Brooks at least had a heavy hand in it.
Ive loved Mel Brooks movies and its been obvious for a long time, from movies like The Producers and To Have and To Hold that hes been just itching to do a full-scale musical. This is that musical.
Its non-stop funny. Visually funny. Hysterical lines. Fantastically clever sets (like a row of file cabinets which actually are doors which open to reveal gold-clad chorus girls inside).
Still my very favorite bit is the number that was performed at the Tonys last year. Bialystock is going to finance this flop musical that is going to make him rich by "shtupping" horny old ladies and getting them to invest in the show. The number with all the old ladies tap dancing using their walkers is one of the most clever bits of choreography I've seen.
They give you a sheet of "fun facts" about some of the shows and the list of facts about this show is indeed fun. there are 404 costumes, 130 wigs, 400 props, 16 horny old ladies, 10,000 beads in what they call the "Chrysler dress," 208 gold coins on each chorus dress in one scene. One chorus member has 17 costume changes, one has 12 hair changes. 80 gallons of water are consumed by the cast in one week, as well as 24 Dixon Ticonderoga pencils. They do 75 loads of laundry a week. There are 40 tap shoes, 22 Hitler moustaches, 2,000 hairpins, 2 wheelchairs, 6 broken leg casts and 1 trick sausage.
(Now doesnt that make you want to rush out and find the nearest touring company production?)
The great thing about this show was that I was able to come home and write a review without just checking out anybody elses review, and I did it in a little over an hour, so I didnt have to get up at the crack of dawn to complete it.
I wish all shows were that enjoyable and easy to review!