Optimistically Cautious

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Theatre: "The Producers"

May and I attended the opening night showing of Broadway Across Canada's The Producers:

"Based on Mr. Brooks' Academy Award-winning 1968 film of the same name, The Producers , the new Mel Brooks musical is the story of down-on-his-luck theatrical producer Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom , a mousy accountant. Together they hatch the ultimate scam: raise more money than you need for a sure-fire Broadway flop and pocket the difference. Their "sure-fire" theatrical fiasco? . . . None other than the musical Springtime for Hitler."

Like watching opera from The Met broadcast at a local theatre, I viewed this as an opportunity to experience a little New York in Edmonton. Unfortunately, the Jubilee was not exactly a Broadway venue. I was quite annoyed that for a show of this caliber (and expense!), the company couldn't get past opening night adjustments. There really was no excuse for the ill-functioning sound system that fizzled out halfway through the first act, particularly when so much of the humor in this play arises from puns and sarcastic asides.

My mental comparison was the 1968 original film, which I happened upon late last summer on Turner Classic Movies. One of the best scenes in the movie - the drunken conversation between Bialystock and Bloom following the surprising success of Springtime - wasn't duplicated. They did, however, recreate the dancing swastika visual (minus, sadly, the pink feather boas), with the clever use of a tilted wall of mirrors. Also, I have to give them credit for the absolutely hilarious "Little Old Ladies" number, chicken Adolf's "Hail Hitler" moment, and Jason Simon's breathless delivery of his jailhouse reprieve. I'm normally not a fan of musicals, but the songs as a whole (absent from the original) really enhanced the plot (so perhaps the problem has been the fact that I've been watching C-grade musicals all my life...).

At the end of the day, I don't regret going, but I couldn't help but think of the 8 Varscona pay-what-you-can shows I could have attended in place of one night at The Producers.



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