The Producers

Date 10th November 2018
Society Hereford Musical Theatre Company
Venue Courtyard Theatre, Hereford
Type of Production Musical
Director Richard Davis
Musical Director Jenni Axtell
Choreographer Amy Virgo Brigham

Report

Author: Louise Hickey

The Producers revolves around Max Bialystock, a failing Broadway producer, who joins up with accountant Leo Bloom. Almost by mistake, they come up with an idea that they would make millions if their next musical was a total flop. They find the most offensive script ‘Spring Time for Hitler’ and the worse director. Max raises £2 million dollars from his antics with an insatiable gaggle of aging women who gladly hand over their cheques in return for his ‘romantic favours’.

All of the principles were the star in this show as they were amazing and played their parts without fault. For this show to be successful there is a need for a strong male cast and HMTC demonstrated they had this.

Ian Burrell played the lead role as Max Bialystock extremely well with good timing and understanding of Mel Brooks script. His number ‘Betrayed’ where he gives an account of what has gone on during his efforts to put on a show was exceptionally good. Max’s partner in crime and co-producer Leo Bloom was brilliantly played by Shay Morris and it was good to see him back on stage after a few years away. His nervy demeanour and mannerisms never faltered as he sought solace with his little blue blanket and eventually confidence as he finds love. This partnership worked very well indeed, they complemented each other both vocally and dramatically.

Using a script written by the fanatical Hitler lover Franz Liebkind, played by Josh Harris who was so funny, as were his pigeons, a director as camp and flamboyant as Roger played by Steve Allan and the ultra-camp, mincing, pirouetting Carmen played by Eddie Bindloss, what could possibly go wrong? All three portrayed their roles with energy, flamboyancy and flair.  ‘Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop’, ’Keep It Gay’ and ‘Springtime for Hitler’ were very well done. Roger’s production team consisting of Bryan (Sam Rodgerson), Kevin (Joe Mounfield), Scott (George Dixon) and Shirley (Ellen Jones) added to the ‘camp-ness’ and histrionics which were very entertaining to watch. Bialystock and Bloom are shocked when, on ‘Opening night’, their flop proves anything but. And if HMTC’s production was anything to go on, you could see why. It was slick, well-polished and the cast romped their way through Mel Brookes’ totally un PC script.

Alison Allan portrayed Ulla the sexy, sultry, siren extremely well and used all of those traits during her song ‘When you got it, Flaunt it’.  The ensemble did some great choreographed numbers, but I think my favourite must be the Zimmer frame number, which was totally in sync. Very well done to the chorus who had to make extremely quick costume changes as they were portraying numerous roles. The costumes were of a high standard and it was good to see wigs and hats being used to great effect.

The back-stage crew deserve a mention as they had to deal with sets that were unyielding and, I should imagine, very heavy. Some of the set changes were made whilst cast members were on stage and there must have been heart-pumping seconds that seemed like hours.

Jenni Axtell as musical director had 12 musicians under her direction and, as always, her arrangements were great and the quality of sound coming from everyone was superb. The music was well balanced and at no time drowned out the singing on stage.

This was Amy Virgo Brigham’s first time as choreographer for HMTC, and I am sure it won’t be her last. The tap routines were spectacular, and everyone seemed to be having a great time doing them.

Thank you HMTC for inviting me and very well done.