Eccentric Producers show promise
By Benedict Kent
Ipswich Operatic & Dramatic Society's The Producers is an adaptation of Mel Brooks's film and musical. Performed at the Ipswich Regent Theatre, it's a play within a play that combines the glamour of Broadway with the usual fun of gays and Nazis.
Set in 1959, the story follows the moneymaking schemes of Bialystock and Bloom, two Broadway producers.
After discovering that they can make more profit in releasing a flop, they recruit Broadway's worst theatre professionals to put on the world's worst musical, Springtime for Hitler. Hilarity ensues.
In all honesty, I've never really got the whole musical thing. However, I very much enjoyed the score conducted by musical director, Mike Wren.
He led a 14-strong orchestra in a sharp and confident performance that even had me humming on the drive home.
Roger Jackaman and Paul Stone's performances as the two producers were reasonably solid, developing a humorous and easy relationship between their characters.
As a play that is built on extreme clichés, Sharna Simmons excelled as the sexy Swede, Ulla. In high heels she maintained striking stage presence and sang her duets with Stone with real quality.
The strongest songs were I Wanna Be a Producer, Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop and That Face in which lively choreography was matched with neat flourishes and ornaments by the orchestra.
But Springtime for Hitler was by far the best number, going completely over the top with the revolving swastikas and a clever mirror trick that I won't ruin for you.
The stage set was loud and colourful and changes nearly all ran smoothly. The backdrops were effective and the set had some clever surprises, such as showgirls appearing out of office cabinets.
It gave a sense of period and brought to life the crude glamour of Broadway culture.
A gay joke too far?
However, I did feel that the complete tongue-in-cheek style of the play wasn't being fulfilled and some of the timing meant a couple of the gags fell flat. After the barrage of homosexual-related comedy sketches that we've seen on television in recent years, I felt that the play's gay jokes were a bit tired.
Some of the caricatures could have been taken further and gave me the sense that the performance lacked something.
Sound imbalances, that can be accredited to a first-night performance, sometimes meant that the audience didn't catch the lyrics and microphones were frequently being turned up as songs started quietly.
The last few scenes were rushed and I can't even remember what happened in the prison scene, it was over so quickly.
But considering the amateur status of IODS, The Producers is a satisfying piece of theatre and the staging and music are very impressive.
It is accessible to most family members and from the sound of the final applause the audience seemed to have had a great time.
last updated: 18/06/2009 at 12:30
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