Print

At Hollywood's beautiful Pantages Theatre, Mel Brooks' "The Producers" is a hilarious romp starring Jason Alexander and Martin Short. It's opening night at The Schubert Theatre, and Max Bialystock's new play, "Funny Boy" is a total flop. The rousing ensemble sets the mood, then Max joins in. He notes that "The reviews come in mighty fast when the critics leave at intermission," while being accompanied by a mournful solo violin. The sign on the front of the theatre is flipped from "Opening Night" to "Closing Night."

Leo bursts into Max's office. Max, completely covered, asleep on his couch, leaps up screaming as Leo yells at him. Nobody talks. They all yell or sing. Everything's over the top. Max excels at getting money from rich old women in return for one last escapade. It's sexually charged, lewd, and not at all believable. Therein lies the comedy. Leo is the accountant, and he discovers that if they collect a lot of money for a complete flop, they can get rich and go to Rio. This is where everything takes off, as they decide to produce the worst play to ever hit Broadway.

They are in Max's office reading plays. It's so bad they are reading the same ones twice, without realizing it. Finally Max stumbles on one, "Springtime for Hitler" that is the worst thing he can imagine. They meet the writer of the show, Franz who reminisces about the great days of the Reich "In Old Bavaria." He wears his German helmet, and tends his birds, who keep time and salute with their wings at appropriate times. He's joined by Max and Leo for "Der Guten Tag Hop Clop," sort of a Nazi Hoe-Down with the characters Hold-Me Touch Me, Lick-Me Bite-Me, and Kiss-Me Feel-Me. The only thing missing was Arnold Schwarzenegger. He could have sat with us in Row SS. After getting Franz to sign off on the play, they set off to secure the worst director.

It's off to the townhouse of Director Roger de Bris for "Keep it Gay." His common law personal assistant, Carmen Ghia swishes outrageously, as Roger tries on his new dress in this totally over-the-top piece. His whole production crew decides to sign on for the play. Back in Max's office, Ulla needs a job. She's a tall, gorgeous blonde from Sweden, and can barely be understood when she talks. No trouble understanding her in "When You've Got It, Flaunt It," though. They will find her a part in the show, but in the meantime, she can be the receptionist/secretary. She goes through her morning routine, "and at 11, sex." They tell her to show up for work at 11. "Little Old Lady Land" is soft, fuzzy, and pink. There are hearts and swings. Max makes the scene, collects a lot of money, and we cap it off with "The Walker Shuffle," complete with leaping, kicking little old ladies.

Act Two opens with Ulla having just painted Max's office white. They chase, tease, and Max leaves. Ulla chases Leo around, and Max returns. It's off to the theatre for the casting of "Springtime for Hitler," a new neo-Nazi musical. On opening night, Max and Leo wish everyone "Good Luck," while everyone sings "You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night." Franz is playing Hitler but falls and breaks his leg going into the theatre. Roger steps in to do a swishy, effeminate Hitler. Everything's over blown, with scantily clad chorus girls. One has a pretzel for a hat, another Valkyrie horns. There's a beer stein, and a sausage, all against a grand German Eagle that opens against a backdrop of lights. The choreography is tremendous, as layers of brown shirts, chorus girls, and officers peel off to all parts of the stage. Paratroopers drop in amongst tanks and all the trappings of war.

The show is a huge hit. Max and Leo are dead meat. They commiserate in Max's office in "Where Did We Go Right?" The Police discover the two sets of books and haul Max off to jail. Leo was hiding, and is discovered by Ulla. They take the two million dollars and take off to Rio. Leo's loyalty to Max brings him back to speak for him, with a samba beat in the courtroom. Another outrageously overblown scene, as the Judge throws them both in Sing-Sing. "Prisoners of love" rounds if off with two big choruses in the prison, before the hit reprise at The Schubert. Max and Leo's names are in lights, along with their myriad of hits, all plays in real ones, for the finale in this outrageously entertaining production of "The Producers" at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. It continues through January 3, 2004.