Sunday 4 December 2016

Review: Politically incorrect razzmatazz

Theatre: The Producers, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

Katy Hayes

Published 09/07/2015 | 02:30

Jason Manford in The Producers stage show
Jason Manford in The Producers stage show

Shows about shows are a staple of screen and stage. Max Bialystock (Cory English) is a formerly great Broadway impresario whose luck has run out. Timid accountant Leo Bloom (Jason Manford, below) comes in to audit his books, harbouring a secret dream to become a Broadway producer. He half-heartedly suggests a way for producers to make money by having a flop. Max jumps at the idea.

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They become partners, search for the worst script ever and find Springtime for Hitler. It is written by a Nazi-loving German immigrant Franz Liebkind, given a wonderfully psychotic performance in lederhosen by Ross Noble. Swedish bombshell Ulla (Tiffany Graves) is cast in the show, and her sweetly deranged brilliance brings an over- the-top feminine energy to the party.

There is plenty of outrageousness, including the hiring of a terrible theatre director, which results in the juicy camp number Make it Gay.

Max raises money for his shows by playing gigolo to lonely little old ladies who give him big cheques. At one stage he has an entire office full of sex-starved geriatric nymphomaniacs dancing with walking sticks.

The orgy of political incorrectness reaches its high point in the Springtime for Hitler number, with its tap-dancing stormtroopers, and shiny sequined swastikas.

Adapted by Mel Brooks from his own 1968 film and originally produced in 2001, the musical was a huge hit on Broadway. This consummate British touring production has all the requisite razzmatazz and gets lots of laughs.

Cory English as Max gives a tour de force comic performance. His prison cell number Betrayed, where he reprises the whole show in miniature - including the interval when he complains a Ben & Jerry ice cream cost him "£4" - is priceless.

Irish Independent

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