The Producers

Date 28th October 2016
Society Nottingham Operatic Society
Venue Theatre Royal Nottingham
Type of Production Musical
Director Lisa Lee
Musical Director Stephen Williams
Choreographer Lisa Lee


Author: Martin Holtom

The Producers is one of the best examples of Mel Brooks' comic genius in every element of concept, dialogue, music and lyrics.  Although an acquired taste, his ability to take humour to the very edge of sanity/social acceptability while bringing his audience with him is almost without equal and is at the heart of The Producers.   Last night Nottingham Operatic, under the expert direction of Lisa, Stephen and Jon in the orchestra pit, delivered a production that brought out all of Mel Brooks comedic genius, impeccable timing, wonderful showstoppers and costuming that caused me at one point to almost spit out a mouthful of coke as I was laughing so hard.

I was lucky enough to see the Producers in its opening run in London over 10 years ago with Nathan Lane and Lee Evans in the roles of Bialystock and Bloom and in many respects the Nottingham Operatic production was its equal in terms of energy, lighting, set and choreography.  It was, however, in their comedic timing throughout the show that the talented principals and ensemble, were in all honesty superior to the London debut production.  The thing about great ‘Non Paid’ theatre is that no-one is going through the motions, the short run of the production ensures that all acting and backstage crew put all their energies into delivering the best that they can be and all involved in The Producers should be proud of what they have achieved in every single aspect of this show.    

Simon Theobald and Mark Coffy-Bainbridge were outstanding as Bialystock and Bloom providing the central driving force of the production in both their individual performances but also in their empathy and understanding of each other’s characters and the rest of the principals.  They delivered 'big characters' without ever overacting or upstaging which is a rare skill, and there are just too many highlights in their performance to mention.   Amanda Bruce provided just the right level of naivety to her portrayal as Ulla and certainly dominated the stage in her delivery of ‘When you got it, Flaunt it’.  Ian Pottage brought exactly the right level of absurdity to Franz Liebkind throughout the night bringing some great character arc that made Franz more three-dimensional than I have seen before.  Joanne-Lale’s Hold-Me-Touch-Me was a wonderful comic creation and Joanne’s timing in her scenes, especially with ‘Max’, were judged perfectly. 

Dan Armstrong had the tough job of making Roger De Bris more than an over the top, overly camp caricature and must be congratulated on achieving this in spades. His, at times understated and at other times full-bore, characterisation, made the audience believe how ‘Springtime for Hitler’ could be a success on Broadway enabling us all to suspend disbelieve and accept this key plot element.  Dan was very ably supported by Jarrod Makin throughout the night and by Rob Harrison, Paul McPherson, James Murray and Aston Fisher especially in ‘Keep it Gay’ and indeed my hat goes off to Rob for his many cameo performances throughout the night, each of which had their own inimitable style.

The 32-strong ensemble brought huge amounts of life and vitality to the whole production delivering great harmonies, key cameo lines, sometimes in amazing costumes, with great gusto be they theatre guests, Nazi Stormtroopers, Rio Carnival attendees or the Village People.
Sound balance between pit and stage and character diction were both superb and the lighting was outstanding throughout the night accommodating changes in major staging elements effortlessly, as did the stage crew who ensured that the pacing of the production never faltered through the many changes required.   Costuming was again faultless and the work Stephen and Joe had obviously done of vocal development during the rehearsal period was evident in every performer, principal and ensemble alike.

Lisa Lee – you have delivered a great piece of theatre – many congratulations!