20th March 2018
Hessle Theatre Company
Hull New Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Tony Harris
Making a welcome return to Hull New Theatre this talented company gave us their take on the entertaining Mel Brooks musical The Producers. Failing Broadway Producer Max Bialystock teams up with an Accountant, Leo Bloom, and together they concoct a plan to make a success out of a flop by producing the world’s worst musical using the worst Director, worst cast and worst theme – ‘Springtime for Hitler’.
A large cast was superbly led by Neal Edlin as Max Bialystock. He was hardly off stage in what is a very demanding role. His ‘The King of Broadway’ was a tough number for him to start with and, towards the end of a pretty long show, ‘Betrayed’ was equally challenging and he performed each of them, and the rest of his part, to a high level – probably the best I have seen from him.
In fact all the six main characters were played extremely well. Joe Porte as Leo Bloom showed his real stage presence as soon as he poked his head round the door of Max’s office. He has great comic timing, made a super team with Max and sang and moved nicely. I especially enjoyed his ‘We Can Do It’ and ‘Til Him’ with Max.
The writer of the worst show in the world is Franz Liebkind and Nathan Major almost stole the show with his performance of this neo Nazi, especially in the hilarious ‘In Old Bavaria’ and ‘Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop’.
The worst Director is Roger De Bris and John Ainsley made a great fist of the character and formed an excellent duo with his “common law assistant”, Carmen Ghia, portrayed by Richard Foot in another good piece of casting. Their ‘Keep It Gay’ with Roger’s Team was very strong and they did not go over the top, which would have been easy to do. Also, Roger almost brought the house down when joined by the ensemble, including James Galer as an excellent Stormtrooper, in ‘Springtime for Hitler’.
Sarah Brodie as Ulla provided the glamour in Max and Leo’s office when she asks to audition and ends up being employed by The Producers. Her big number is ‘When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It’ and she put it across very well even if her costume seemed to be causing her some problems. She and Leo also had a nice duet ‘That Face’.
The company enjoys great strength in depth and supporting roles were well performed by many including Mark Jardine (Bryan), Luke Cardwell (Kevin), Christian Brodie (Scott), Kevin Hickson (Mr Marks), Shirley Watts (Hold Me Touch Me) and Katherine Fitzgerald (Shirley Markowitz).
There were loads of laughs throughout the show, all well appreciated by the audience. The band made a big sound. However, although not spoiling our enjoyment of the show, there were some technical issues on the night we saw it concerning sound, lighting and set but these will have been noted and sorted out. Choreography and staging was showbizey, which I love, and the entire cast seemed to be enjoying themselves.
So did we.