Theatre department “keeps it gay”

By Daniel Cobb

April 3, 2014

Max Bialystock: Max Bialystock is in it for the money, and nothing else. “He is sleezy,” Erik Burns-Sprung said. “He is a gross, nasty old man.” Bialystock is a former hotshot Broadway producer who gets into a big slump and tries to redeem himself. Yet, despite being one of the protagonists, Bialystock is just as twisted as his last name. “He’s one of the protagonists, but he’s really underhanded,” Burns-Sprung said. “He’s going to pull out all of the stops and surprise audiences from start to finish.” Burns-Sprung has been in numerous Missouri Western plays, including “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” Sweeney Todd” and “A Christmas Carol,” to name a few. He described this particular role as exhausting – not in character or personality, but in respect to the volume of acting and singing necessary. Knowing when to breath during those big musical numbers can be tough. Yet, audiences can expect some underhanded schemes and plots from Bialystock, as well as some fun musical numbers from him and the entire cast. Leo Blum:

Leo Blum may be somewhat reserved in “The Producers,” but he’s also quite clever.

“Leo discovers that, in theory, a producer could make more money with a flop than with a hit,” Sebastian Smith said of his character, Blum. “He gives Max the whole idea to try and put on the biggest flop of all time, and he becomes (Max’s) partner.”

Blum isn’t the most confident of individuals, according to Smith.

“Leo is mousy and very mild-mannered,” Smith said.  “He’s very OCD, but has a childlike naivety to him.”

Smith feels like he got a head start with Blum because of his previous role of the Man in Chair in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”  Though he noted that there are several differences between the characters, Smith drew some inspiration from his previous role, as well as his little brother, Santiago.

“In our household, he’s big and loud and boisterous,” Smith said of his younger brother.  “But in public, he hides it very well by being quiet.”

Smith hopes that audiences can relate to Blum on several levels, but believes that the character’s best quality that people should take note of is his determination to follow his dreams.

“He wants to be a producer more than anything in the world,” Smith said. “He’s offered this one chance to become a producer, and even though it’s illegal, he’s willing to take the risk.”

Ulla Inga Hansen Bensen Yonsen Tallen-Hallen Svaden-Svanson: Never underestimate the cute one. “Ulla is radiant,” Lauren Bergman said. “She’s very energetic and bubbly. She’s also sexy, and she knows she sexy, but, at the same time, she has this innocence about it.” Bergman hopes to portray her own version of Ulla Inga Hansen Bensen Yonsen Tallen-Hallen Svaden-Svanson (that’s her first name) in Missouri Western’s “The Producers.” “I’d like to think that my take on Ulla is pretty organic, because she’s very much like myself in some ways,” Bergman said of her character. Ulla is a very lively character, and Bergman hopes to use her previous experience from performing in Missouri Western plays like “Annie,” “Sweeney Todd,” “The Magic Flute” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” However, Bergman had her work cut out for her when it came to defining her character in “The Producers.” “(Ulla) is definitely unlike any other character I’ve had to play,” Bergman said. “She’s by far the most out-there, suggestive character that I’ve had to play.” Look for Ulla at “The Producers” performance. She’ll be the one singing, “When You’ve Got it, Flaunt it.”