A local spin on Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’

Jul 11, 2012

The Village Theater concludes yet another successful season with their production of “The Producers.” It was originally a Mel Brooks movie, and has all the trademarks typical of his work.

“The Producers” is the story of two men who share a common dream: to produce the absolute worst play on Broadway! Now why would they want to do that? Because – in theory – if they claim they need a huge amount of money for a play, and then it closes instantly, they get to keep the money.

The story begins with Max Bialystock, whose producing career has become a joke. His plays are getting bad reviews, and his investors are very antsy.

Bialystock’s new accountant comes to his rescue. His name is Leo Bloom. He accidentally lets on that if they could get $2 million to invest and produced a bad play, that they could get rich.

After the timid Leo Bloom suggests this, he decides to participate in the scheme, hoping to break into show business. They select a play that is not only badly written, but is sure to offend a vast majority of people.

It is called “Springtime for Hitler.” It’s a musical in which Adolf Hitler is not only portrayed sympathetically, but he wins the war! Who would write such a stinker? A former Nazi, of course. Leo and Max seek out the author, Franz Liebkind.

They then hire who they feel would be absolute worst director, who would demand to bring his own personal style to the show. That would be an openly gay cross-dresser named Roger Debris.

Next, Max and Leo hire a very sexy aspiring actress who can’t speak very understandable English and can’t dance too well. So enters Ulla, into their lives, home –and Leo’s heart.

Will this unlikely team be able to get rich off these oddballs efforts? Perhaps.

Richard Gray plays the insanely opportunistic Bialystock. His crazy enthusiasm makes his plan at least halfway convincing. His last project was “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He took those lessons to heart.

Making his big debut as the neurotic Leo Bloom is Brian Earp. His opening scene is absolutely perfect as he lets everyone know just how hard it is to be him. Hopefully we’ll see his talents again in the near future.

Nick DeSantis plays the irrepressible director Roger Debris. His portrayal is over the top, but strangely heartfelt at the same time as he prances around in drag.

Roger’s ‘life partner,’ Carmen, is played by Chris Ensweiler. His last production was as Felix in “The Odd Couple.” Here he in another half of an odd couple that is actually more functional than most.

The lovely and barely understandable Ulla is played by Jessica Skerritt. She’s been in several productions, and here again she proves her versatility.

And last but far from least, the extremely butch Franz Liebkind is played by David Anthony Lewis. His debut is sidesplitting.

You won’t want to miss out on a minute of Mel Brook’s “The Producers.”

“The Producers” is playing at the Everett Performing Arts Center now through July 29. For ticket information, call 425-257-8600.

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