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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 20, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 16
The Producers produces delightful moments and lots of laughs at Seattle Musical Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
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The Producers produces delightful moments and lots of laughs at Seattle Musical Theatre

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

THE PRODUCERS
SEATTLE MUSICAL THEATRE
Through April 29


A tried and true musical since 1967, when it bowed to film audiences as a surprisingly clever and zany comedy, earning Mel Brooks an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, The Producers is still providing chuckles to theater crowds fifty years later.

Although it toured nationally and overseas after capturing 12 Tony Awards in 2001 when it was adapted for Broadway, and has since been re-staged by regional and community theaters around the country, The Producers feels fresh and funny even today, mainly because it was ahead of its time.

At Seattle Musical Theatre (SMT), the timeless classic is enjoying another revival, and a good one at that. The stage design was minimal, but the overall production - including terrific performances from its co-leads, Nethaniel Jones and Brad Walker, plus solid choreography by Kate Kingery - was well executed.

If you're not familiar with The Producers, here's a summary. Max Bialystock is a Broadway producer who asks a young accountant, Leopold 'Leo' Bloom, to cook the books and hide a $2,000 discrepancy. As it turns out, Bloom discovers that Bialystock stands to make a profit if he invests in productions flops vs. hits.

The two set out to find the worst script ever written and land on one called Springtime in Hitler, and then do their best to convince the worst possible director, a flamboyant gay man with a production team that includes a leather daddy and butch Lesbian, to helm it. Instead of panning, the musical earns rave reviews following the opening night performance, forcing Bialystock and Bloom, who were expecting it to close after one show and cash in, into a dilemma.

Tyrone Brown, SMT's new Artistic Director, kicked off the evening on a comical note, mistakenly crediting The Producers to Mel Gibson and not Mel Brooks; two very different filmmakers.

Highlights of Act I were two sensational duets featuring Max and Leo belting out the numbers 'We Can Do It' and 'I Wanna Be a Producer.' Both actors, Jones and Walker, were equally pleasing, though I found the latter adorably hilarious with a noteworthy resemblance to Matthew Broderick, who played the role on Broadway and the revised 2005 movie. Walker, whose acting credits include Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (with Harlequin Production) and Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas (at Taproot Theatre), was delightful to watch throughout the performance.

Shane Hoffman was a hoot as Roger, the director, whose first scene finds him dressed in full drag and launching into the sassy tune 'Keep It Gay.' Noel Pederson, who played the part of tall, long-legged Swedish beauty Ulla, was also a standout, especially on the solo 'When You've Got It, Flaunt It.' The ensemble, as a whole, was collectively entertaining.

Kudos to the orchestra on supporting the production wonderfully, giving the nearly three-hour musical some added pep, and to costumer Penny McMillian-Hughes for dazzling outfits in both acts. I loved the gold showgirl costumes with black and white headdresses during the number 'I Want to Be a Producer'!

The Producers at SMT is definitely recommended. It's fun and campy, cheeky and witty, with lively musical numbers and a talented cast to pull off such a well-regarded musical. I found the venue itself laid back and comfortable, even allowing guests to bring their beer, wine and coffee into the house to enjoy during the performance.

Though it hadn't been officially announced yet, Brown shared with the audience on Saturday that the 2018-2019 season features Aida, The Bridges of Madison County and a production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown with an entire cast that is 55 years or older, including the lead star who is 69 and played the part 47 years ago.

Seattle Musical Theatre is located inside Magnuson Park in North Seattle with Metro transit bus service to the main entrance of the park, a less than five-minute walk to the venue, and departing service just down the street from the theater. For more information, go to www.seattlemusicaltheatre.org.

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