Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Rattonians The Producers Mel Brooks Musical Review

The Rattonians
The Producers
The New Mel Brooks Musical
22 July- 1st August 2009

Performance seen - 1st night 22nd July

In their 25th year the Rattonians take a break from staging the more traditional musicals choosing to present the, some may say controvercial, Mel Brooks musical comedy - The Producers.

Before I talk too much about this show though, and after my comments on Just So earlier this year, I must mention that I thought great care had been taken to get the balance between orchestra sound level and vocals just right.

The orchestra had been sunk just about as far as they could go in the pit and screens were erected around the louder instruments. This ensured that whilst still appreciating a terrific orchestra all lyrics and dialogue should still be heard. Clearly some time had been taken to get this right.

As for the show itself it is no "ordinary musical". Various productions of The Producers have created headlines in the press this year mainly because of the subject matter.

Max Bialystock is a struggling Broadway musical producer whose recent big budget attempts at quality productions have flopped. Leo Bloom, meanwhile, is a bored accountant who yearns to be a Broadway producer. Bloom works out that the only way to quick financial success is for Bialystock to raise lots of finance from his geriatric harem of admirers. They will then employ the worst, cheapest, actors. The plot will be something that offends everybody. The result will be a surefire flop and the show will have to close in a day or two allowing Bloom and Bialystock to pocket loads of invested cash.

The resulting production is Springtime For Hitler. Looking on the German dictator as if he and his entourage were all flamboyant, extra camp homosexuals.

Bloom and Bialystock also employ a beautiful, blonde, Swedish secretary who cannot speak English in the hope that she will assist their production to flop.

What results is an extremely well acted, hilarious comedy which keeps the audience laughing throughout. There is a little swearing , a lot of slightly rude inuendo. But unless you take offence at anything and everything most adults would find the show very funny indeed.

In fact we took an elderly friend along and she was laughing out loud at risque lines I
didn't think she'd even understand!

What works so well in this Rattonians production is the casting. The Producers is a chance for the Rattonians to display more in the way of their acting ability than is able to be demonstrated in the musicals we are more familiar with.

More than 50 Rattonians appear in The Producers yet in this production 8 of the cast get a chance to shine as the main story revolves around them.

Mr Marks is played superbly by Glen Gardner and the honour of playing the geriatric nymphomaniac "Hold Me, Touch Me" was awarded to Melanie Adams . The hilarious role really suited her .....and no I don't mean that in real life she is a funny old slapper!

That leaves the 6 key roles.

Carmen Ghia palyed by Dan Carnham

Dan offered more in the way of "camping" than the New Forest and a better quality "mince" the Dewhurst The Butcher! He proved he could be Britain's new Danny La Rue! A truly funny role sperbly played.

Roger De Bris played by James Hookway

After watching James wearing a sparkly frock and playing the gay Fuhrer so effectively it was hard to imagine that he had to go back to work in his more serious day job with Sussex Police. Great job Roger!

Franz Liebkind - David Morley

David makes the role of the author of Springtime for Hitler his own. Franz Liebkind is a sort of German Nazi Nutcase and I don't think anybody could have filled the character's shoes better.

Max Bialystock - James Bell

We have never seen Max before since first seeing the Rattonians a few years ago. But what a superb job he does in playing the key role of failed Broadway producer Max Bialystock. A comedy genius, great singer and the result is a great on-stage double act alongside Alex Adams. The pairing of these two was genius.

Leo Bloom - Alex Adams

Well Alex never fails to impress but in The Producers he demonstrates just what a superb comedy actor he is addition to an accomplished gifted vocalist.
The character of the nervous, neurotic Leo Bloom could have been written especially for Alex as he just seems to be so perfect in the role. He and James Bell just work so well together in this show.

Ulla - Jenny Stevens

Jenny Stevens gets her chance here to star as beautiful, blonde, somewhat ditzy secretary Ulla. Not an easy role to play I would imagine but such an important one. But could she carry it off?

Without a doubt she could. I thought she was absolutely amazing. She looked the part (Eastbourne's answer to Victoria Silvstedt) and the Swedish accent was excellent and consistent. She was also so very, very funny and proved what an excellent singer, dancer and actress she is. As somebody who we've normally seen as part of the main Rattonians company this was Jenny's opportunity to impress in a lead role. An incredible performance and a casting that was spot-on.

So there you have it. In my view an extremely funny show as usual a terrific performance by the accomplished Rattonians.

It was first night but apart from a few lighting issues (spotlight hitches) everything appeared to go like clockwork and as always the set and costumes were outstanding.

The cast were rewarded with a partial standing ovation. But I don't think the partial has anything to do with performances but more to do with the show itself.

I loved The Producers and my wife and guest thought it was good. But they just could not put their finger on why it did not get the reaction of other shows and as to why they preferred previous productions.

I think we're back to the fact The Producers is just so very different material-wise than any other musical. Traditional musicals people go to see time and time again. I'm not so sure The Producers however is that type of show. It's more like an excellent comedy movie - that you've thoroughly enjoyed but may not wish to see again.

There is one other factor and that is in this quite large Rattonians galaxy in this production only a relative few of it's stars get the chance to shine. Ensemble dance/singing routines are relatively few in this show compared to other musicals and perhaps some would prefer to see The Rattonians appear more as a group rather than highlighting the talents of a relative few?

Don't let that put you off going though. We all had a terrific evening and this is a hugely funny, highly entertaining, well acted, summer show which will have you laughing throughout.

As always with the Rattonians all profits go to good causes so why not book now and enjoy a show and support charity at the same time?

4 out of 5 for The Rattonians present The Producers 2009

Oh I almost forgot. this year The Rattonians again stage A Celebration Of Musical Theatre and Christmas Music. It was a great success last year and this year it extends to two nights 27-28 November at the Congress Theatre. Tickets are only £12 so don't miss out on a quality festive production from these talented people. As always profits will go to charity.

To book follow the link below Print This Entry

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