The phenomenon is phenomenal! The first act is an absolutely non-stop series of show stopping turns, each topping the earlier high. The second act goes even further, hitting a new high with the biggest big number on Broadway. Then, just when you might begin to feel that the show needs something more than just comedy, out come heart-tugging emotion and even redeeming social value.
Storyline: This is the Broadway musical based on Mel Brook’s classic comedy film about a Broadway producer (Nathan Lane) who teams up with his nebbish accountant (Matthew Broderick) to produce a flop in order to pocket the investments of little old ladies in a show that has no profit. But their “Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolph and Eva at Berchtesgaden” is a surprise hit, exposing their fraud.
Nathan Lane earns his Tony Award. He is a classic clown with a bit for every line, every movement, every glance and every step. He is exactly what this audience expects and it expects nothing less than theatrical magic. Matthew Broderick is even more than is expected with a performance of more depth and class than had been reported. Cady Huffman earns her Tony as the chorus girl the producers hire as a secretary. Gary Beach earns his Tony as the flamboyant “worst director in the world” while Brad Oscar goes farther over-the-top than can be believed as the author of the worst play in the world. Roger Bart, as the director’s “common law assistant” has moments that make you beg for mercy so you can get your breath.
With chorus girls emerging from file drawers and little old ladies tapping with their walkers, Choreographer/Director Susan Stroman has constructed an entire first act that doesn’t have a single moment that looses focus. Then, in the even bigger big production number “Springtime for Hitler” she includes more ingenious bits than that entire first act. Then she sets up the pure schmaltz of the climax with a sure touch.
I have only two tiny nits to pick: Brad Oscar’s Act I makeup and using chorus boys in little old lady costumes. The book by Mel Brooks and Tom Meehan is a glorious compilation of fabulously funny material structured in a tribute to the glories of musical comedy. The songs by Mel Brooks all work to advance the show with all the irreverent humor you expect and they sound fabulous in Doug Besterman’s orchestrations. Robin Wagner’s fabulously colorful, workable and, above all, funny sets pay tribute to all the designers that went before him. The costumes by William Ivey Long are both perfect and hysterical.
The Producers is the hardest ticket to come by on Broadway. There’s a good reason for that – it is a fabulous show.
Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Directed and Choreographed by Susan Stroman
Price range $21 - $100
Potomac Stages Broadway
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street