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November 28, 2003 - Image 99

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

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Mel Brooks mugs at a preview press conference fo "The Producers."

Brooks characterized his work as
"New York humor," as opposed to
Jewish humor.
"I don't think it's particularly
Jewish because I wasn't raised in a
very Jewish household," he said..
"My mother wasn't kosher; my
father died when he was only 34. I
was 2 years old. My brothers
Bernie, Lenny, Irving — my three
older brothers — worked, and we
were not particularly Jewish —
except the neighborhood.
Culturally, we were."
Still, his work often is defined as
"Jewish humor," but Brooks insists
he doesn't understand the term.
"I'll tell you this, when a critic
says 'Borscht-Belt humor,' or
`Catskill humor,' for me, an

Zero Hostel's
Bialystock in the
movie lots of times,"
said Amaral in a recent
telephone interview. "I
try to have a little of
Nathan in the part,
but I also have Zero."
Despite his New
England upbringing,
years of study and work in New York City have left
Amaral with a heimish accent and a working knowl-
edge of street Yiddish. He also spent six years singing
in nightclubs -- all the better for belting out
"Betrayed," one of the Producers' show-stopping num:
bers, which includes equal parts of Luciano Pavarotti
and Ethel Merman.
Amaral's credentials include two recent Broadway
revivals: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the
Forum, where he took over as Pseudolus, another
role originated by Lane in the revival and Mostel in
the original; and Guys and Dolls-, in which he played
Harry the Horse.
Until Nov. 2, Amaral was buried in a 35-pound
purple costume to play Pumbaa the Warthog in the
Chicago production of The Lion King. Former
Broadway touring gigs have included The Wizard of
Oz (Cowardly Lion), Annie Get Your Gun and Do

Susan Stroman and Mel Brooks speak to reporters from
throughout the United States as the national tour gets
under way.


on page 72

Bialystock And Bloom

"The Producers" comes to Itlihigan with
two versatile song-and-dance men in the lead roles.


Staff Writer


ike all of Mel Brooks' movies and television
skits, his Broadway musical extravaganza
The Producers is as heavy with New York
Jewish shtick as a chopped liver and corned beef
sandwich is with cholesterol.
But similar to their original casting in the
Broadway production, the irreverent Brooks, and his
nimble-minded co-conspirators Susan Stroman and
Thomas Meehan (director/choreographer and co-
author, respectively), have chosen not a single Jewish
actor in the lead roles as the blockbuster musical
comes to Detroit. (Max Bialystock role-originator
Nathan Lane is Catholic despite his preponderance
of Jewish roles; Matthew Broderick, who created
Leo Bloom, has only one Jewish parent.)
Taking over the role of Bialystock, the scheming
Jewish theater tycoon, is Bob Amaral, originally of
New Bedford, Mass. The Detroit run will mark his
debut in the show.
Amaral has at least one characteristic in common
with Brad Oscar, the Jewish actor who played
Bialystock to rave reviews earlier in the tour — they
both can be made up to look like Lane. And, since the
highly anticipated return of Lane and Broderick to the
Broadway company Dec. 30-April 4 has led to sky-
rocketing advance ticket sales for that production, any
resemblance to Lane is, by definition, a good thing.
"I've seen the play a couple of times, but I've seen

Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?Arnaral's

list of television appearances is immense, from
Hong I Shrunk the Kids to Love and War.
Appearing as Bialystock's repressed sidekick, Leo
Bloom, is Andy Taylor, a blond wholesome-looking
fellow who, in real life, earned a bachelor of music
degree in cello performance in 1982 from Oberlin
Conservatory of Music.
Since then, Taylor has originated the roles of
Howard in Moon Over Buffizlo with Carol Burnett,
and J.H. Rodgers in Broadway's Tony-Award winning
Titanic. In the national tour of Cabaret, he played the
villain Ernst.

Bob Amaral

Taylor, who has
won various awards
for his work in serious
theater on the regional
level, said he feels
"blessed to work with
Susan and Mel, who
encouraged us to go
out and create these
Andy Taylor
As an actor, you
dream of doing a role
like this," he said "It's not the kind of show where
you're reverent about the show' We've been
encouraged to add our own whimsy."
Since this summer's Boston touring company
debut, Taylor has portrayed Leo Bloom as con-
stantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, fling-
ing himself and his scrap of security blanket on to
Bialystock at the first sign of stress. Yet, in his
romantic solo "That Face," he shows a confident
lyrical tenor voice, seemingly out of nowhere.
Will young people appreciate the. Borscht-Belt
humor of The Producers?
"When I'm in the audience, I see guys in their
teens and 20s, and they're loving it," Amaral said.
"They may be old-style jokes to us, but they're
hearing them for the first time. It's a whole new,
wonderful audience."0

• \-N




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