“The Producers,” rates an A+ | TheUnion.com

“The Producers,” rates an A+

by Hindi Greenberg
Special to Prospector
Robert Rossman (as Max Bialystock) and Danny McCammon (as Leo Bloom) in the Sierra Stages production Mel Brooks' "THE PRODUCERS" playing through Aug. 8 at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City.
Submitted by David Wong |

“The Producers” is a theatrical happening not to be missed! Through its stellar actors–who sing, dance and create laughs aplenty–and its extremely talented production staff, Sierra Stages has capitalized on the genius of Mel Brooks (the playwright and composer) to bring an outrageous musical and comedy extravaganza to splendid fruition.

“The Producers” was originally a non-musical, satirical and darkly comic movie, first screened in 1968. With a storyline about a washed up Broadway producer and a meek accountant who scheme to defraud investors by producing a flop starring a grinning Hitler and dancing Nazis, the movie initially received mixed reviews–one of the better ones asserted “bad taste can be irresistible.” Hitting movie screens only two decades after World War II and showcasing Nazis, transvestites and sex with rich old ladies, Mel Brooks seemed out to provoke everyone equally. Ironically, the movie is now considered one of the top 100 comedies ever filmed. Then in 2001, Brooks adapted his movie into a Broadway musical, which won a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. This adapted musical is what is currently so superbly presented by the Sierra Stages crew.

With 20 actors, 11 musicians (seated in an opening at the rear of the set) and an unseen chorus that sings from behind the set, it’s amazing that an amateur company can create a complex and constantly shifting piece that flows so smoothly and looks so good. There are no weak links in this production, not in acting, singing, musicianship nor production values. The leads, who all act and sing wonderfully, are: Robert Rossman, alternatingly charming and smarmy as the scheming producer Max Bialystock; Danny McCammon, adorable as the neurotic accountant Leo Bloom, who becomes hysterical when anyone touches his “blue blankie;” Kate Haight, steaming up the stage as the Swedish bombshell Ulla; Paul Micsan, delectable as the transvestite impresario Roger DeBris; and Conor Nolan, fabulously swishing to and fro as Roger’s “common law assistant” Carmen Ghia. The real show-stopper is Jay Barker, exhibiting his mighty vocal and comic chops as the unrepentant, off-kilter Nazi, Franz Liebkind, who wrote a love paean to his Fuehrer titled “Springtime for Hitler,” which Max and Leo plan to use as the theatrical flop they need so they can abscond with their investors’ money. The audience roared when Barker sang to his pigeons–I can’t explain, you’ll have to see this for yourself.

Susan Mason’s overall direction, Ken Getz’s musical direction, George Jayne’s dance direction, Erin Beatie’s lighting design, Eileen Beaver’s costume design (there were at least 100 fabulous costumes), Peter Mason and Chris Schmidt’s set design, Greg Cameron’s sound design and Chris Schmidt’s technical direction are all terrific. What a talented team, with all the elements meshing seamlessly and always entertainingly. This is the second Sierra Stages show that merits an A+, along with their previous production of “Avenue Q.”

Word of mouth will sell out every performance of this show, so you should immediately buy your tickets to see “The Producers” at the Nevada Theatre, continuing through Aug. 8.

Hindi Greenberg embarrassingly finds herself singing the lyrics to “Springtime for Hitler” at the most inopportune times. Or envisioning a Busby Berkeley choreographed dance number every time she sees someone using a walker (you have to see the show to understand this one).

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