“The Producers” Review

By Daniel Cobb

April 5, 2014

Missouri Western’s “Season of Laughter” ends with an appropriately hilarious, risqué and charming musical that will have you in stitches within mere minutes. “The Producers,” a musical by Mel Brooks, follows the failing career of Max Bialystock (Erik Burns-Sprung) whose latest play, “Funny Boy,” was a complete and utter flop. As Bialystock bemoans his life, a timid accountant by the name of Leo Bloom (Sebastian Smith) enters the apartment to audit his books, only to discover that Bialystock actually made money off of the play, despite it being a flop. Bloom pitches the idea that, under the right set of circumstances, one could make more money off of a failed production than a successful one. Realizing that this “get rich quick” scheme isn’t totally out of the question, Bialystock hatches a plan to put on the worst Broadway production of all time, with Bloom’s help. What follows is a musical trip through New York to find the strangest and most outrageous characters you’ll ever see onstage. From Franz Liebkind (Riley Bayer), an ex-Nazi with musical pigeons, to Roger De Bris and Carmen Ghia (Caleb Hazelwood and Thomas Delgado), a homosexual couple whose passion for style and flamboyance is off the charts, you’ll simply fall in love with the cast and their incredible ability to switch into several different outfits on the fly depending on the scene. More importantly, the chemistry between these characters is undeniable.  Everyone plays off of each other incredibly well, and while Bialystock is fairly lax when it comes to weird personalities, seeing Bloom’s reaction to each character, especially the sexy receptionist, Ulla (Lauren Bergman), is an absolute treat given his antisocial tendencies. “The Producers” doesn’t skimp on music, either.  The orchestra is absolutely phenomenal when recreating those big, Broadway sounds. While most of the songs are accompanied by a fantastic ensemble (who also change in and out of costumes with unprecedented speed offstage), there are quite a few solos thrown into the mix as well, and it’s certainly impressive when actors sing while moving about the stage in bombastic, sometimes unexpected ways. Regardless, most of the songs here are memorable and just a lot of fun to watch and listen to. Then, there’s the comedy. Much like “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the comedy here is simply timeless.  It covers all of its bases, poking fun at a number of different cultures and lifestyles while not being afraid to make fun of itself from time to time.  Nearly every joke that was thrown at the audience was reciprocated by an uproarious laughter, and there were a few lines and situations that required the actors and actresses on stage to pause for a few moments in order for the crowd to regain their composure. This is a musical comedy done right.  It is an absolute treat from beginning to end. Though there were a few instances where it was a bit hard to hear some of the lines or make out what the ensemble was singing, it hardly mattered in the long run. The stage design, the singing, the comedy, as well as quite a few unexpected moments, made “The Producers” a hilarious and memorable production.  Do not miss out on this one!