COLOURFUL, camp and controversial, The Producers, Mel Brooks’ satirical celebration of bad taste, goose-stepped into the Festival Theatre last night with a dream cast.
Producer Adam Spiegel’s stroke of genius? To combine musical theatre stars and celebrities in a musical spectacle.
The story: Impoverished by a string of flops, New York producer Max Bialystock, a powerhouse performance from Cory English, recruits timid accountant Leo Bloom to help him pull off Broadway’s greatest scam.
Together they aim to produce the worst show ever - Springtime For Hitler - and disappear with the millions raised to stage the production.
However, they soon learn show business can always find a way to kick you in the teeth.
As the hysterical, wide-eyed innocent Bloom, comedian Jason Manford is a revelation.
Strong vocals, a good range and deft comic timing make him the perfect foil for English, the glue that holds the piece together.
Phill Jupitus as crazed Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind, gives a finely pitched performance too, dangerously funny and nifty in the dance routines. His is a bonkers, scene-stealing turn that goes down a treat.
Oozing ‘sex’ appeal, Tiffany Graves shines as the gloriously eccentric Ulla in an outstanding performance.
OTT, outrageous and soul-destroyingly annoying, Louie Spence easily inhabits the skin of Carmen Ghia, partner of ‘Broadway’s worst director’ Roger Di Bris, played by a mesmeric David Bedella. As Spence postures, pouts and brings a whole new dimension to camp (not always in a good way), Bedella remains in command with a simple line, look or move, as required.
And let’s not forget the hard-working ensemble, without them there would be no show. Special mention goes to Jay Webb, who sings as a sinister Hitler Youth.
With a minimalist set that could have drawn inspiration from the jumble that was Steptoe and Son’s front parlour allowing all the focus to be on the performers, this production of The Producers really is done in the best possible worst taste, and is all the better for it.
Runs until Saturday