What do you get when you take a chorus of dancing Nazi's, a blonde Swedish bombshell, 14 dancing "little old ladies", and a harebrained scheme to produce a Broadway Musical flop???
Answer: The sensational, wacky, over the top, hilariously-offensive, Mel Brooks masterpiece, "The Producers" presented by Eight O'clock Theatre at Largo Cultural Center, through March 17th.
The Producers, won 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score. on Broadway. It was created by Mel Brooks and was based on the 1968 movie with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The 2005 movie starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick which was based on the actual stage version.
The story revolves around former Broadway producer, Max Bailystock, the former "King of Old Broadway," and his neurotic accountant, Leopold Bloom. Together, they join forces in a "get-rich-quick" scheme to produce a Broadway Musical... flop. Yes, you read this correctly, FLOP! You will have to see this wonderful production to see what happens next.
Conductor, Emi P. Stefanov raises his baton. The LIVE orchestra begins. The curtain goes up on the forced prospective Shubert Theatre. The red uniformed usherettes and formal attired, well rehearsed ensemble, immediately transports the audience to Old Broadway. From the exquisite sets by master-set designer, Tom Hansen, the colorful costumes by Kathy Sutton and Shawn Ryan, and the innovative lighting design by DAlton Hamilton, we know that we are in for a smashing production of "The Producers". And the most appreciative audience was simply, WOWED! There were lots of Laughs and lots of Applause, because this production is Terrific! - a HUGE HIT!
In the Zero Mostel role of Max Bialystock, larger than life, Ben Taylor is perfectly cast. Mr Taylor uses his facial expressions to the hilt, as he looms across the stage scheming and plotting his next misadventure. His great comic timing is reminiscent of the late, Jimmy Durante and he goes gangbusters with Mel Brook's shtick, Hal Roach taks, and one line zingers.
You will not want to miss...polished, slick, George Cahill, in the Gene Wilder role, as the shy and nerdy accountant, Leopold Bloom. Mr. Cahill is stunningly fantastical! He is a triple threat. He can act, sing, and "oh boy", can he dance! Mr. Cahill lives the role of Bloom with total believability. He brings throngs of laughter with each neurotic gesture. Decked out with top hat, cane, and 6 beautiful, blonde chorus girls, Mr. Cahill stops the show with his well trained singing voice, natural grace, style, and tap dancing feet, in "I want to Be a Producer". A brilliant performance!
Long-legged, beauty, Christina Capehart shines as the Swedish bombshell, Ulla. Melted into a sexy, form fitting dress, showing off her many remarkable assets, Miss. Capehart stopped the scene as she belted out, "When You've Got It, Flaunt It". And she did just that! And what a set of pipes! And she can act and dance too! Miss. Capehart has it all!
The entire cast gave strong, comic performances. Ron Zietz brought a lot of tongue in cheek laughs, to the role of Franz, the Nazi-musical comedy playwright. Dressed in a silver sequined gown and tiara, Joell Ramsdell as stage director Roger DeBris, cavorted and "camped it up" in a show highlight "Keep it Gay". Cengiz Dokumaci as Carmen Ghia, (Roger's assistant), swished and swayed and provoked gales of laughter on each dramatic entrance and exit.
An actress of many talents, Ronnie Farley had the audience "in stitches", as the sex-starved granny, Hold Me-Touch Me and as a "butch'd up" carpenter.
The fine singing and dancing ensemble, included Karen Johnston, Amber Phillips, Nick Abounader, Bill Clark, Lauren Clark, Jim Kegler, Rick Laitenberger, Chad Mueller, Stephaine Porto, Jonathan Pouliot, Kamryn Ramsdell, Michael Shurtz, Joe Southall, Amy Spies, Jana Swenson, and Jennifer Trieste.
Bravo! ~ to Director Rocco Morabito, assisted by the stellar talents of James Grenelle, for an extraordinary re-creation of the original staging. Kudos to Ronnie DeMarco, assisted by Sandra Robinson, for re-creating the original choreography.
I had to remind myself several times, that this was a community theatre production, performed by volunteers, who give there time and talents for free, as a "labor of love". This Eight O'clock Theatre production of "The Producers" can stand up tall and proud to any regional production. BRAVO!...2 Thumbs UP!...and 5 Stars!
"The Producers" presented by: Eight O'Clock Theatre at Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo, Florida. Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks. Original Direction recreated by Rocco Morabito. Original Choreography recreated by Ronnie DeMarco. Reviewed: March 3, 2013 at 2:00 P.M. *Contains adult language and situations that may not be appropriate for children under 12 years of age.