Where there is Mel Brooks there is craziness. The Producers has this in spades, and the ever-talented and adventurous Hills Musical Company comes up trumps in this production.
The music is not exactly world shattering, but has some nice tunes (like “Springtime for Hitler”), and the humour is in-your-face almost slapstick and has some funny twists as well. But if you are looking for subtlety, this is not the place to look.
Director Steve Rudd has amassed a large, well-disciplined and talented cast, and what must be a pretty damn good backstage crew to cope with all the scene changes on this compact stage. Musical Director Tammy Papps commands a fine orchestra which has moments as brassy and brash as the script, so while it is noisy at times, it fits.
The acting by the principal protagonists is full-on hammed up musical theatre style, as is the singing by the ensemble in their stereotypical big production numbers, of which there are several which are impressive and effective and a credit to all involved. There are also lots of fabulous and remarkable costumes by Renee Brice: over two hundred of them for all the changes. And there is finely executed choreography by Shenayde Wilkinson-Sarti, who also plays the female lead with charm and coquettishness: she’s got it, and she can flaunt it! She can sing quite well too, but she dances better.
Jamie Richards is reminiscent of a combination of Mel Brooks himself with a dash of Benny Hill, as he over plays the role of Max Bialystock, with a lot of energy and quite a bit of shouting (will his voice survive the season?) and some of his lines are funnier than their delivery. Omkar Nagesh is reminiscent of Jerry Lewis with a dash of Ronnie Corbett as he plays a fine Leo Bloom – Max’s diminutive accountant and side-kick with his own hang-ups. His panic about his baby blanket was a tour de force. These three leads bring some nice comedy touches, particularly in “That Face” which they sing together.
Paul Briske is a crazily manic Franz Liebkind, and the pleasantly voiced Ellis Dolan is the Stormtrooper. There is plenty of camping up in song and dance, ably led by Adam Harrison (Carmen Ghia) and Eden Plaisted (Roger DeBris), and the ensemble gets into it with panache. One standout within the ensemble is the differently proportioned Kate Anolak, who steals the show in most of the numbers she appears in, while the grannies’ zimmer frame and bloomers ballet is a real treasure.
This show is deliberately “shocking, outrageous and insulting”, does a great job of making Hitler look like a looney, and is as good an escape as any Mel Brooks nonsense. The HMC is to be congratulated on a courageous venture, pulled off with aplomb.
Hills Musical Company presents
Adapted for the stage by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Director Steve Rudd
Venue: Stirling Community Theatre | Avenue Rd, Stirling, SA
Dates: 8pm, April 26 – 27, May 2 – 4, 9 – 11, 2013
Matinee: 2pm, May 5