The Producers-When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It!
“Boston University could use a laugh. We take ourselves too seriously.” This is how Kat Pernicone (CAS 2013,) director of BU On Broadway’s production of The Producers, opens her director’s note. And that is just what this production delivers: a laugh. Many, in fact.
I have to admit, I went in with some doubts. Don’t get me wrong—I knew that the stellar directorial team, cast and crew would blow it out of the park (and they did.) The Producers just isn’t my kind of show (having seen the original Mel Brooks film and the movie adaptation of the 2001 musical,) and I was not sure if the Mel Brooks humor would win me over. I’m happy to say that I could not have been proven more wrong. I was quite literally slapping my knee from laughing so hard throughout this wacky journey.
The Producers follows the unlikely duo of extravagant washed up Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Dylan Kaplan, SMG 2014) and mousy accountant Leo Bloom (Austin Pohlen, CGS 2014) who discover that a producer could hypothetically make more money on a flop than a hit. Bialystock comes up with the plan:
- Step 1: Find the worst play ever written: Springtime for Hitler, by “former” Nazi Franz Liebkind (played hysterically by the seemingly-always elated Alec Nicholson, CAS 2012)
- Step 2: Hire the worst director in town: Roger de Bris, the flamboyant director who vows to always “keep it gay” (Michael Butvinik, SHA 2012, who had me crying with laughter every time he opened his mouth)
- Step 3: Raise two million dollars (read: woo a bunch of octogenarian nymphomaniacs)
- Step 4: Hire the worst actors in New York (featuring Ulla, the charming young Swede, played by the ever-so-sweet Mary Miller, COM 2014)
With a formula like that, there’s surely no way they could go right. But what happens when they do and they face being put away for fraud?
The roles of Max and Leo have perhaps been immortalized by the musical’s original stars, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. However, to say that Kaplan and Pohlen deliver imitations of Lane and Broderick is foolish. I was so incredibly impressed with how these two young performers approached these characters; they were still appropriately absurd, but they found their own humor and their own approaches to these roles, which shined through and was very endearing. Kaplan in particular tore the house down with his Act II 11 o’clock number “Betrayed.” The rest of the cast was equally impressive, led by director Kat Pernicone, whose sense of humor came through beautifully, music director Jonathan Brenner (CFA 2012,) who once again leads a student cast in some of the most impressive vocals and orchestrations I’ve heard, and Janette Martinez (CFA 2013,) whose choreography had the audience tapping along.
The Producers has one more performance tonight at 8:00. Tickets are $10, and I would recommend getting there early.
Ryan McPhee (COM 2012) Indulging in art on the stage, in the kitchen, and everywhere in between. @mchadoaboutryan