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November 28, 2003 - Image 98

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

09

on

of The tiroz,44

he actually needs, wait for the show to
close and keep the profits.
In their search for a suitably awful
show, the pair stumble on Springtime
For Hitler. But, instead of closing after
a week, the show is so laughably bad,
it becomes a hit, and its astounded
producers find themselves with more
trouble than they bargained for.

DIANA LIEBERMAN

Staff Writer

G

et ready for a trip back in
time, when musicals were
inhabited by buxom
Swedish babes with long
legs, sex-starved little old ladies and
swishy stage designers; where produc-
tion numbers featured endless chorus
lines, and story lines screeched to a
halt so the leads could burst into song.
On Dec. 2 — after more than two
years on the Broadway stage and
halfway through a national tour —
Mel Brooks' musical comedy extrava-
ganza The Producers finally is coming
to Detroit.
"It's an old-fashioned burlesque,
vaudeville and stand-up comedy,"
Brooks said at a press preview of the
touring production in Boston last
summer. "It's brilliantly written."
And, just like the original Producers
movie, which made its debut 35 years
ago, the stage show is leaving audi-
ences rolling in the aisles.
Evelyn Orbach, artistic director of
West Bloomfield's Jewish Ensemble
Theatre, saw The Producers early in its
Broadway run.
"For about 30 seconds, I thought,
`This is so biased! This is so bigoted!"
she said. "By the end of 30 seconds, it
had insulted everybody, but I'd decid-
ed it was one of the most imaginative,
creative things I've ever seen."
The show, which won a record 12
Tony Awards, involves Max
Bialystock, a shady Broadway produc-
er who earns his less-than-princely
income by bilking little old ladies out
of their life savings. At a low point in
his life, he teams up with naive, neu-
rotic accountant Leo Bloom, who
determines that the firm could
increase its profits by purposely pro-
ducing flops. All Bialystock would
have to do is raise more money than

11 / 28

2003

70

King Of Comedy

Andy Taylor (Leo Bloom) 10c1 Company perform a production number as part of
"The Producers: The New Mel Brooks Musical" National Tour Company.

Mel Brooks is riding high as
The Producers" continues its
triumphant national tour with
a stop in Detroit.

The 77-year-old Brooks — in a joint
interview with Susan Stroman, The
Producers' choreographer/director, and
Thomas Meehan, with whom he co-
wrote the script — said he'd been
encouraged to turn the movie into a
full-blown Broadway musical by enter-
tainment mogul David Geffen.
"I told him the movie has become a
cult favorite," Brooks said. "We put it
on in another form, maybe on the
stage, and they'll go [raspberry] —
you know — 'this is no good.'"
Geffen persisted and Brooks, who'd
written both the script and songs for
the movie, set to work.
At first, Brooks was hoping to get
Jerry Herman, composer of Hello,
Dolly! and La Cage Aux Folles, to
write the music and lyrics. But
Herman told him, "I know who you
need. You need the guy who wrote
`Springtime for Hitler.'"
And that guy was Brooks himself.
Brooks, whose television career
included both Sid Caesar's Your Show
of Shows and the 1960s spy spoof Get
Smart, won an Oscar for his movie
screenplay of The Producers. He also
wrote and directed 10 other movies:

The Twelve Chairs-, Blazing Saddler,
Young Frankenstein; Silent Movie;
High Anxiety, History of the World:
Part I; Spaceballs; Lift Stinks, Robin
Hood: Men in Tights, and Dracula:
Dead and Loving It.
At the preview press conference,

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