There is always something to be said for a story, almost 50 years old, that is still as relevant, humorous and engaging as it was, half a century ago. The Mel Brooks musical interpretation of the cult film definitely withstands the test of time, with song, dance, and comedy oozing out of this clever, witty and entertaining musical.
The Gordon Craig is an independent theatre, unbeknown, only a 20 minute commute from London’s King’s Cross, well known for producing many of their own productions.
The production values are absolutely remarkable. In this lavish production, you really are transported around the world of the Broadway producer – seemingly – no expense spared. Lisa Hickey and Carmel Hall deserve plaudits for quite remarkable costumes, especially that of the show girls in act 2.
I actually attended a night prior to the official press night opening of the show, and for that, some
accidentals may have to be excused. There were some seemingly awkward situations with curtains
flying in on top of set, followed by crew kicking them back in to place, and lights coming up, to
stage crew awkwardly running into the wings. A little too often, first words or lines were missed when microphones just weren’t on in time. The show had an air of ‘opening night’ about it but as The Producers is a show with many ‘show business in-jokes, you could argue this complimented the nature of the musical.
The cast themselves were generally wonderful. Notably from Daniel Page, who plays a fittingly camp Roger Debris; ‘the worst director in town’, and a hilarious Oliver Stanley as Franz Liebkind; an ex-Nazi and writer of ‘the worst play ever written’. His rendition of ‘Der Guten Tag Hop Clop’ in act one was complemented very kindly by some clever pet birds, and perfectly replicated the scene from the big screen.
The whole ensemble of the piece had some wonderful moments. A clearly experienced and talented Joseph Connor gave us some dancing delight, whilst Catherine Millsom played her many roles with difference, yet precision. Choreography unfortunately seemed to lack the spectacle that a show of this nature deserved, which let the big numbers down, seeming a little simplistic and messy at points.
In a time where theatre struggles against shows like the X-factor, and Britain’s Got Talent, huge credit has to go to a theatre that continuously produces high quality theatre on a seemingly high quality budget.
Reviewed by Matthew Ryan
Photo: Martin Smith Origin8 Photography