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'The Producers' is a Big Hit at the Village Theatre

Brian Earp (Leo Bloom), Richard Gray (Max Bialystock). Photo by Jay Koh. Property of Village Theatre.
Brian Earp (Leo Bloom), Richard Gray (Max Bialystock). Photo by Jay Koh. Property of Village Theatre.

One of the biggest hits in musical theater this century, The Producers, has taken the Village Theatre Mainstage by storm. Mel Brooks’ brilliant satirical comedy won twelve Tony Awards in 2001, including Best Musical. The musical is an adaptation of Brooks’ 1968 movie of the same name which starred Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The Producers tells the story of Max Bialystock (played by local actor, Richard Gray), a musical producer who can’t buy a hit, and Leo Bloom (Brian Earp), his accountant who realizes that Bialystock could actually turn a profit if his next show was guaranteed to lose money. Bialystock and Bloom then set out to produce the world’s worst musical, a show called Springtime for Hitler, directed by the world’s worst director, Roger Debris (Nick DeSantis). The result is a delightfully over‑the‑top, side‑splitting musical full of huge production numbers and 194 costumes.

The cast is full of local favorites, and the material brings out their best. While two acting legends, Mostel and Nathan Lane (who originated the musical role of Bialystock) can be said to have set the standard for the scheming producer, Gray makes the role all his own. Gray exudes a crazy comedic energy and gives the best performance of his that I’ve seen to date. Brian Earp has what I consider to be the best singing voice in the Seattle area. Although Bloom’s accent obscures its beauty a little, he’s still a delight to hear. I had only ever seen Earp in Village Originals readings where there is little staging, so it was a nice surprise to see that he’s quite a gifted physical comedian as well. DeSantis is stellar as always, and Chris Ensweiler matches him step for step as his assistant, Carmen Ghia. David Anthony Lewis, who plays ex-Nazi and author of Springtime for Hitler, Franz Liebkind, steals every scene he’s in.

Don’t miss The Producers! The show is sure to thrill all audiences. However, due to the nature of the themes and jokes in the show (many of which are based on homosexuality, Nazis and sex), parents may wish to review the preview guide to determine whether their children should attend. The Producers is on the Village Theatre Mainstage through July 1, 2012 before moving to the Everett Performing Arts Center where it will run from July 6 through July 29, 2012.