The Producers

Date 10th November 2022
Society Winchester Musicals & Opera Society
Venue The Theatre Royal, Winchester
Type of Production Musical
Director Gina Thorley
Musical Director Katie Hickson
Choreographer Gina Thorley and Molly Moffitt-McGrath
Producer Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom!
Written By Mel Brooks


Author: Mark Allen

Arriving at the Theatre Royal, Winchester, an old traditional theatre, I was given my customary warm welcome by Lorraine Morgan and her front of house team and took my place in the stalls for what I was hoping would be another triumphant performance by a very talented society. I was not to be disappointed. The Producers, written by Mel Brooks, is based on his own 1967 film of the same name and tells the farcical story of a failing producer, Max Bialystock and his new sidekick, a boring weak accountant, who spots a way that you can make more money with a flop than a success and so they agree a plan....

The eleven piece band, led by Katie Hickson and conducted by Martin Patterson were terrific and started with real pace and attack from the outset. When the curtain was drawn we were treated to a simple yet effective set with a plain cityscape backdrop and the performance got underway and it became very evident, very quickly that the cast were here to enjoy themselves and their movement was with purpose and with energy. Each member knew where they were supposed to be and at what time. Not a note, or step, out of time. The choreography was simple and yet quite effective and the whole cast had obviously been well drilled and well rehearsed by Director Gina Thorley and Molly Moffitt-McGrath. Bravo. 

The scene changes were swift and, with a lot of the scenery flown in, was quick and efficient with hardly any "blackout" and that there was, was with low level ambient lighting and an underscore. Credit here to Angie Barkes and her backstage crew. The sound was spot on, and the lighting really enhanced the overall effect of the staging and had been programmed and focussed well by Tony Lawther and his team.

To add to the visual effects from the staging and lighting was the most fabulous array of bright, camp and very effective costumes, and so many of them. I'm sure that the costume team led by Jo Barker, Pam Jones and their team had their work cut out and I'm sure many a long night was spent, however it was most certainly worth it. It was quite a lavish performance.

The performances from the principals, as ever with WMOS, was as close to professional as you can get at this level, with Wesley Buckeridge as Max Bialystock and Nico Bray (a newcomer to Winchester) as the eponymous Leo Bloom, and were of a very high standard. They worked very well together as a pair, fitted the characters perfectly and could bounce off each other (and in places physically!), They were very ably backed up by Daniel Williams as Roger DeBris and Simon Meanwell-Ralph as his PA Carmen Ghia and they, like Wesley and Nico, played off each other with real confidence. Throw into the mix Molly Moffitt-McGrath as the sexy Swedish siren Ulla and fantastic over the top performance by David Tattnell as Franz Liebkind and this was a first rate line up. The principals were also confidently backed up by Anne Croudass as Hold Me/Touch Me and Conner Handstock as the Stormtrooper whose individual cameo roles were, again, delivered with great enthusiasm and skill.

This is a show, like so many this year, that will remain long in the memory. A first class and first rate polished performance from an excellent society. Well done WMOS, this was a top job.