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THE PRODUCERS Kavinoky Theatre
Sep 15, 2017, 16:05
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THE PRODUCERS Kavinoky Theatre

By Augustine Warner

It’s the kind of world where corporations make more money by having fewer employees and get tax write-offs for getting rid of them.
So, a Broadway producer can make money by financing a bad show, taking in more money than he needs and then pocketing it all when the show flops.
In a Broadway of a few years ago, it might have worked before regulators came in and started requiring reporting and offering statements.
But, it worked fine for Mel Brooks in the movie “The Producers” and then on Broadway (where else) for the stage version.
It was a great show and movie and movie.
Now, “The Producers” is a great show at the Kavinoky, dominated by Norm Sham (Max Bialystock), Brian Mysliwy (Leo Bloom) Arianne Davidow (Ulla) and Greg Gjurich (Roger DeBris).
Max is a long-time Broadway producer whose latest show, “Funny Boy” is the latest in a line of turkeys and his reputation is ruined and he’s tapped out.
That’s until his accountant, Leo, comes by and happens to mention how you can get rich out of a show which crashes and burns immediately.
Max has a flash of genius in building a crooked scheme on top of that accounting rule and the story cranks into motion.
Leo flips from being the staid accountant to someone looking for a flash of life and stealing some of the cash, in “I Wanna Be A Producer.”
The two have to find the worst possible musical and they stumble upon a Nazi who wrote a musical painting Der Fuehrer as a good guy with a nice girlfriend, the musical “Springtime for Hitler.”
Then, they go out and find the worst director, choreographer and production crew they can unearth.
Max then goes out and beds little old ladies for the $2 million they raise for the show and themselves.
They even wind up with the Nazi Franz Liebkind (Todd Benzin) as the lead.
How could it all go wrong?
Let me count the ways and Brooks and Thomas Meehan show all of them.
Obviously, this is becoming a war horse of a musical but it can be done wrong.
Here, the Kavinoky production benefits from a strong cast and the director and choreographer Lynne Kurdziel Formato, too long absent from local stages.
David King kicks in a lavish, flexible and effective set.
That’s where the strong cast shows, most of the cast with “The King of Old Broadway,” Max and Leo with “We Can Do It,” Ulla wonderfully with “When You’ve Got it, Flaunt It,” most of the cast with “Springtime for Hitler” and most of the cast with “Prisoners of Love.”
It’s all wonderful, if you skip the moral dimension of what’s going on, Broadway accounting, theft and Hitler as a good guy.
Most this doesn’t matter since “The Producers” is such a great show in a strong production.
In the short term, this has to be one of the must-see shows of the initial theater season.

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