Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Review | THE PRODUCERS (UK Tour) April 2015

It's the greatest failure in the history of show business.... at least that's what it's supposed to be! 'Springtime For Hitler', the Neo-Nazi musical on the misunderstood Fuhrer is what lame producers Bialystock and Bloom intend to stage in order to rake in the remaining funds of a doomed Broadway musical in the smash hit Broadway musical - The Producers!

It's perhaps as confusing and seemingly irrelevant on paper as it is on stage, but much like the show that features within it, The Producers is a sure fire hit ... at least it is with a string of star names to it. 

Here, the show is cast for entertainment value and it's stars take precedence over anything else. Top of the bill is Stand Up Comedian Jason Manford. Incredibly likeable as accountant-turned-Broadway Producer Leo Bloom, with a cartoony voice like a timid Mickey Mouse, he wins over the audience with what at first is a seemingly subtle performance that explodes in song - a perhaps surprising element to his performance, he wins over any doubters. 

Manford is paired well with Cory English as Max Bialystock who is no stranger to the role. Experience is definitely ripe as he earns some of the biggest cheers of the night. Phil Jupitus is sometimes a little difficult to understand behind all the German but is humorous in his portrayal of pigeon keeper, Playwright, Hitler obsessive Franz Liebkind. 

Stage veteran David Badella brings Broadway charm as only he can. His rich sound and smooth voice is something of his trademark and works particularly well with the role of Roger De Bris, a fabulously flamboyant image of the over theatrical, cross-dressing director. In a later, excellent turn as Hitler, hilarity breaks out in the show's most spectacular dance number - full of glamour, full of glitz and camp as.... well, they rhyme with glitz. 

As if it wasn't already overly theatrical enough, Louie Spence ensures that you don't leave with your cravings for camp unsatisfied. His hilarious Carmen Ghia is something of an upstaging of almost everything but the audience lap up every pirouette, every backbend and bevel. 

Finally, Tiffany Graves is excellent as Ulla, she's got it and she flaunts it. 

The set is pretty minimal with a lot of moving going on behind a waving back cloth, it is distracting and clunky set pieces prove difficult to manoeuvre sometimes. A lot of this is covered up well with vibrant choreography however. Almost like a Bialystock and Bloom production with creased swastika laden curtains, the production doesn't boast the highest production values, but it doesn't matter. The Producers has been done far more lavishly before but here money has been well spent elsewhere with a well chosen, star cast and enthusiastic ensemble make this something of a sure fire hit!

Highly hilarious, farcical, at most times irrelevant, it shouldn't work but it does - much like the show it's about. An easy, fun and (most importantly) entertaining night at the theatre. At Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday 25 April. Tickets here

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