The Producers is the stage adaptation of the 1968 of the Mel Brooks film of the same name. It opened on Broadway in 2001, winning a record 12 Tony awards.

OSMAD have done it again, bringing us an extremely entertaining version of this hilarious show.

I knew from the moment musical director Ben Hudson brought down his baton for the first time that we were in for an enjoyable evening. Hudson had his orchestra on a very tight leash and the sound they produced was amazing. Hudson had the ensemble sounding just as good – with great cut offs and easy to understand lyrics, the show’s sound was excellent.

Hudson’s music was coupled with Louisa Mitchell’s choreography. Mitchell had everyone in time and in sync. The choreography was stylish and well-polished. I felt the constraints of the set hindered Mitchell’s movements at times, especially in the granny scene where I’m sure she could have used the entire stage very effectively.

Richard Perdriau directed the show, and designed the set, graphics and backdrop for this production. Perdiau’s set was very inventive.  It consisted of a set of sweeping stairs that covered the width of the stage , although, as previously mentioned I believe it did hamper some of the choreography. The other parts of the set quickly came in and out, and were moved by stagehands in costume. Perdiau has a great eye for direction and also for detail. His city back drop was very effective, as was the office flyer. Perdriau gave us a seamless production without the dreary blackouts that we so often get in nonprofessional theatre these days.

For the most part, the cast were great and well suited to their roles. The highlight of the show was Robbie Smith who played Leo Bloom. Smith is a triple threat, he can sing and act, and boy, can he dance! Smith showed us the vulnerability of Bloom through to the confident Bloom at the end of the show. He has a great quality to his voice and his dancing skills were very impressive. Smith’s duet ‘That Face” with Alana Lane, who played Ulla, was excellent. Lane’s strong belt voice was most impressive and she had full command of it. Her characterization of Ulla was excellent, although I don’t believe she had the ‘Oooo wooow wooow’ factor that Max and Leo thought she had. I believe some skimpier outfits would have helped with this.

Phil Smith returns to the stage after a seven year absence to tackle one of theatres most challenging roles, Max Bialystock. Bialystock is a role that requires an actor to be totally over the top in both acting and singing. Smith is a very talented individual in both singing and acting.  In attempting to make the part his own, I believe that Smith misread the level of farce and frenetic energy that the role requires to draw the best possible audience response.

Franz Liebkind is one of my favourite character in The Producers and Warren Logan did not disappoint in singing, acting and comic timing. His rendition of ‘Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band?’ was fantastic.

Show stealers Patrick O’Halloran and James Davies, as Roger de Bris and Carmen Ghia respectively, were hilarious. Davies brought a new element to Carmen with his dancing abilities and his comedic timing was superb.  O’Halloran was fantastic as the theatrical director-cum-actor Roger De Bris. O’Halloran’s over the top performance was exactly what this character needed in order to be successful.

The ensemble did a great job taking on as many as five or six different roles. Jeremy Russo was a standout in this ensemble, especially as Scott the choreographer, where it wasn’t him as much him standing out as his costume!

Lighting designer Danny Issko complemented the show extremely well with a well thought out, creative lighting design, as did sound engineer Glen Bardwell who ensured all could be heard and not a word of dialogue was missed.

OSMAD have produced another top notch show that kept me smiling and laughing for the entire production. 

The Producers continues at the Geoffrey McComas Theatre, Morrison Street, Hawthorn until October 25th.
Bookings, Phone: 0490 122 135

Photos: Paolo Tommasini