The Producers

Date 30th March 2022
Society Seaton Starlights
Venue Uppingham Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Lee Cook
Musical Director Reece Crane
Choreographer Nicola Sandall and Louise Cook
Producer Louise and Lee Cook
Written By Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan

Report

Author: Nigel Hancocks

You never know what to expect when you are invited to, not only a new town but also a theatre company that you have never seen before. I am delighted to say that I am not disappointed in either.

Seaton Starlights is run by the enthusiastic pair, Louise and Lee Cook. This enthusiasm should be copied by all amateur dramatic companies. Without Mr & Mrs. Cook’s determination to weather the storm of the pandemic, nothing would have been achieved.

The show ‘The Producers’ by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan is, as many of you know, a black comedy originally a film that was adapted as a stage musical with all the razzmatazz expected by Mel Brooks and Co. A remaking of the film more recently has again put this production under the spotlight for the amateur stage.

Accompanied by Jules Jones a Regional Representative for Lincolnshire, I, the NODA Regional Councillor for East Midlands found my way into an impressive theatre with its vast stage and backstage areas, comfortable seating, and brilliant legroom, literally to boot! I was permitted to choose my own seat and of course, chose to be right at the front. It was there that I found the orchestra pit and the talented Musical Director Reece Crane complete with the rest of his fourteen-person team.

So off we go, following the opening number the lead Max Bialystock, played by a very talented Glen Whitmore with his ‘tongue and lip to teeth’ pronunciation as you would expect from a Jewish American, who introduced us to his variety of problems. Like how to prise money out of an old lady and how to avoid being caught by all the others in his gaining prowess! He is then joined by a convincing and shy Leo Bloom played by Michael James in, I understand, his first role as an actor, well done. Their plan was to find the worst musical, written by the worst writer and produced by the worst cast that would gain them a lifetime of cash on which to retire. The gang requires a female assistant in the form of Ulla played outstandingly by Diane Lander, who not only convinced me that she was very continental both vocally and physically but managed to enthral the audience with her tantalising dance routines. As the story unfolds Franz, the 4th principal cast member, arrives played by Duncan Balcon. Duncan, I congratulate you on your hilarious performances as the mad German writer of the worst musical to descend on Broadway.

Okay, that’s the Principals but without brilliant support from the rest of the cast, they would not extract the vast quantities of laughter gushing out of the audience. The two cast members (Mick Barker and Glyn Mould) who played the gay couple were so convincing together with other members of the cast, Louise Cook, Phoebe Candlin, Jo Venni, Yannick Cavalec, Rob Collis, Sarah Dorson, Nicola Sandall, Jacqui Melton, Anne Stringer, Bryan Ingles, Bex Jones, Dan Stamp, Claire Talbot, and Benjamin Morton. Congratulations to you all.

My comments on the set and stage arrangements in general. As with all musicals, the set is often challenging to say the least. First-night arguments between determined scenery and an equally determined crew are often unsuccessful for the crew. Tonight, the competition was firmly won by the crew. I have, with my considerable experience, witnessed the opposite, with the set winning hands down. A firm and favourable pat on the back for the limited numbers of crew and the vast scene challenges. I know that all other nights will run smoother. With that in mind, observing the competition between furiously hard-working crew before the continuation of the rest of the show may be best forgotten.

Thank you, Seaton Starlights for the invitation to your excellent show that firmly surpassed some of the West End Musicals I have seen. I look forward to your next production.

Footnote. Please if any of your team would like to be the Regional Representative for your area please contact me at nigel.hancocks@noda.org.uk

Thank you.

Nigel Hancocks