With OSMaD’s season of The Producers fast approaching, Theatre People took the opportunity to interview two people playing the same roles on opposite sides of the show: the man playing a fictionalised producer on stage and the man stepping into the same role backstage.
Interested in the idea that there may be a little Max within producers everywhere, Theatre People spoke to Richard Beveridge (OSMaD's producer) and found that the exact opposite is true.
“While Max is a wonderful character, I really don’t think we share any similarities… I think I’m definitely a more hands-on producer than Max is. I enjoy attending rehearsals, painting sets, and really getting involved. My favourite part of theatre is the feeling of camaraderie that is endorsed by hours spent working on a truly great script, which is definitely not be something Max wold be interested in.”
We couldn’t waste the golden opportunity to drop a few references into the conversation, (turns out Mr. Beveridge’s day is not spent, as Leo Bloom presumes, sleeping “until half past two”,) and we discovered than he actually breaks Max’s cardinal rule of being a producer: he does put his own money into the show.
“Of course I do! When you’re part of a creative team like ours, that is so involved in so many aspects at the same time, it’s hard not to absorb some small production costs. I really think it’s worth it in the end, the rewards are just so fantastic. Actually, it’s rather funny… One of the main points in the show is when the two lead characters discover that they could possibly make more money by producing a flop than a hit, and I have had friends at other Melbourne companies tell me that it is hard to make money out of The Producers. The show always ends up over budget, it’s a massive project.”
Left to right: Robbie Smith as Leo Bloom, Alana Lane as Ulla and Phil Smith as Max Bialystock.
As mentioned before, we also caught up with Phil Smith, the man stepping into the shoes of Max. He spoke about how it feels to play such a well-loved, if not morally dubious character.
“I’ve seen the show many times professionally, and I’m so happy to be given the chance to play a character like Max. It’s fantastic to be able to play the comedy and the complete sleaziness of Max, you don’t really find that unique blend of acting skills in any other musical theatre piece… I was the last person to audition for the role, and now after rehearsing three times a week and putting so much into the show, I’m looking forward to getting our work in front of an audience.”
Mr. Smith confessed that the worst thing that could happen to The Producers is that someone may not completely understand the humour of the show, and that could have catastrophic implications for that audience members enjoyment of the show.
“There are obviously some terrible things on-stage in The Producers (particularly during the “Springtime for Hitler” portion of the show,) but we are relying on the universal appeal that Mel Brooks’ humour seems to have. The Producers is a funny, funny show, especially for people who know theatre well… There are so many references to other musicals and the process of putting a musical in front of an audience, it’s hard to see what’s not to like!”