Thursday, October 17, 2019


Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Original direction and choreography recreated by Rachael Beck and Rachel Thornton
Dramatic Productions
Gungahlin College Theatre to 26 October

Reviewed by Len Power 16 October 2019

The modern musical tends to tackle serious and worthy issues of the human condition.  ‘The Producers’ exists just for fun and takes a broad swipe at political correctness while it’s at it.

Adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks’ 1967 non-musical film of the same name, ‘The Producers’ focusses on two Broadway producers who plan to make their fortune by deliberately overcapitalizing on a Broadway musical, ‘Springtime For Hitler’, that is so bad it can’t do anything but flop.  Of course, the show turns out to be an unexpected hit, putting them in deep doodoo.

The original production opened on Broadway in 2001 and ran for over 2500 performances.  It won 12 Tony Awards including Best Musical – a record that has never been broken.

Daryl Somers of TV fame shows another side of his talent with an excellent, highly-energetic performance as the sleazy producer, Max Bialystock and he sings the demanding role very well.  Newcomer to Canberra, Jason Bensen, is terrific as the nerdy and troubled accountant who blossoms as the other producer.

Demi Smith is a sexy and very funny Ulla and Zack Drury pulls out all the stops in his hysterical performance as the insane playwright and Nazi sympathiser, Franz Liebkind.  Paul Sweeney gives his best performance so far in Canberra as the very camp director, Roger De Bris and Jake Fraser is delightfully slinky and temperamental as Roger’s ‘special’ friend, Carmen Ghia.

There is great work from everyone else in the hard-working cast.  They all get their moment to shine.  I’m not sure I’ve quite recovered yet from seeing Pat Gallagher and David Cannell playing little old ladies!

Musical direction by Ewan was excellent with the orchestra playing the score very well.  Sound balance between cast and orchestra was just right.

Rachel Thornton’s choreography works extremely well and you can tell the cast are having a lot of fun dancing it.  Suzan Cooper has excelled even herself with the multitude of dazzling costumes.

Director, Rachael Beck, wisely recreates the main elements of the original production and, with her enthusiastic team of performers, gives us a fast-moving, colourful evening of great entertainment.  You won’t see many shows as funny as this one.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.