THE PRODUCERSBook by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Granbury Theatre Company
Director – Kyle Hoffman
Assistant Director – Nathan Early
Music Director – Ashley Green
Choreographers – Stevie Simmons and Jadie Phelps
Scenic Designer – William Byrum
Costume Coordinator – Drenda Lewis
Prop Mistress – Gaylene Carpenter
Light Designer – Kalani Morrissette
Sound Designer – Haden Capps
Max Bialystock – Brian Lawson
Leo Bloom – Matt Beutner
Usherette – Rebecca Reeder
Usherette – Stevie Simmons
Hold-Me Touch-Me & Shirley – Bentleigh Nesbit
Mr. Marks & Judge – Jeff Meador
Franz Liebkind – Tyler Ivie
Carmen Ghia – Aaron Brooks
Roger DeBris – Colton Lively
Bryan – Kevin Baum
Kevin & Jason Green – JD Choate
Scott & Jack Lepidus– Nolan Moralez
Ulla – Emma Golberg
Lick-Me Bite-Me – Derien Houston
Kiss-Me Feel-Me – Jennie Jermaine
Donald Dinsmore, O’Riley, Bailiff & Trustee – Micky Shearon
Stormtrooper – Logan Throckmorton
Sergeant – Levi Casler
O’Houlihan & Guard – Jordan Juice Houston
Foreman of Jury – Dominque Angelina
TAP CORPS – Maya Acuña-Taylor, Jenna Hagan, Jordan Juice Houston, Nolan Moralez, Jadie Phelps, Rebecca Reeder, Mickey Shearon, Whitney Shearon & Sofia Warren.
DANCE CORPS – Kevin Baum, Levi Casler, JD Choate, Derien Houston, Jennie Jermaine, Chelsea Manning, Stevie Simmons & Logan Throckmorton.
ENSEMBLE – Madison Acuña-Taylor, Dominque Angelina, Micaiah Armstrong, Jeff Meador, Bentleigh Nesbit, Peyton Seymore & Cheyenne Throckmorton.
Reviewed Performance: 2/21/2020
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
“The Producers” introduces us to Max Bialystock (Brian Lawson), a one-time king of Broadway now reduced to producing flops and bilking old ladies out of money in exchange for one last romantic fling in their lives. Into his world comes nebbish accountant Leo Bloom (Matt Beutner), who muses aloud while going over Max’s books that a fortune could be made by producing a show that is a flop. Max eagerly jumps on this idea. He and Leo join forces to find the worst play ever written and hire the most terrible director and actors they can find in order to profit from the biggest turkey in Broadway history. What could possibly go wrong?
Everything, as it turns out. And it makes for a hilariously funny ride. Max and Leo are in the act of committing a felony, but we root for them every second. And the people we meet along the way add so much to the merriment. There is the Nazi playwright, Franz Liebkind (Tyler Ivie), whose “Springtime for Hitler” is light musical romp through World War II with Adolph and Eva. Then we have the flamboyantly gay director Roger DeBris (Colton Lively) and his fussy assistant Carmen Ghia (Aaron Brooks) who are signed to direct. And in Max and Leo’s office there is the sexy secretary Ulla (Emma Golberg) who schedules her day so that she always has time for sex at eleven in the morning.
The language is a touch saltier and the sexual references more overt, but all the charm and absurdity of the move are intact. Add the songs by Mel Brooks and this material is taken to another level. Director Kyle Hoffman has taken his cast to that level and beyond. He has embraced the sprawling nature of this play and made it his own. The result is a fantastically entertaining night at the theatre.
The sets are a combination of rear projections supplemented with roll-on or fly-in set pieces, designed by William Byrum. There was a little bit of trouble with the doors in a suspended flat in one scene, but that only added to the silliness of the play. The projections were especially effective taking us to the glitz of Broadway or giving us a breathtaking view of the New York cityscape from Max’s office.
The costumes, coordinated by Drenda Lewis, are wonderful. We are taken on this larcenous journey with style and wit. The stops are completely pulled out in the “Springtime for Hitler” production number, where we are treated to chorus girls accoutered as various German foods and stormtroopers outfitted like you have never seen before. It is truly a feast for the eyes.
The production opted for a recorded score which was the right call. The music of this show needs the sound of a full orchestra, and with the limited space of the Granbury Opera House and the huge cast required, there was no place for one. This was not Broadway karaoke. All of the singers seemed to be soaring along with the music.
The choreography of Stevie Simmons and Jadie Phelps sprawled all around the theatre. We were given enough tap breaks and high kicks to last a lifetime. Along with the afore-mentioned dance number with walkers, we had prancing accountants, a tap-dancing Hitler, and a charming group of prisoners of love frolicking their way into our hearts. I had a wonderful time through it all.
The script depends on the characters of Max and Leo, and Brian Lawson and Matt Beutner do not disappoint. Mr. Lawson embodies the Bravado of Max. This is a man who once had it all and will do anything to get back on top. Brian Lawson’s Max is a crook and a cad, and he is just so darned likable. Under Max’s bluster, which Mr. Lawson delivers in his speaking and singing with great gusto, is a vulnerability that endears him to the audience. Mr. Lawson is evidently having a great deal of fun playing this character.
As the shy, retiring Leo Bloom, who wants everything he’s seen in the movies, Matt Beutner steals your heart. All closed off in the beginning of the play, Mr. Beutner makes Leo’s opening up to the world a delight to watch. His singing is strong, and he makes the character of Leo very much his own (easily dispelling the ghost of Gene Wilder). You can’t help but love him.
Emma Golberg is a fetching Ulla and makes the most of her musical number, “When You Got It, Flaunt It". As the fugitive German playwright Franz Liebkind, Tyler Ivie is a riot. Clad in a German helmet and lederhosen, he unabashedly milks every laugh he gets. Aaron Brooks fearlessly plays the director’s assistant Carmen Ghia. And Colton Lively as the director Roger DeBris, whom we first see dressed in a gown reminiscent of the Chrysler Building, is spectacular.
The ensemble of singers, dancers and actors deserve a round of applause. They portray an almost endless array of little old ladies and accountants and theatregoers and Nazis and prisoners and the list goes on and on. The dance numbers were spot on and spirited. Their singing and energy were the glue that helped hold everything together. Thank you.
So, dear reader, if you would like to just sit back and laugh for a couple of hours, make your way to Granbury. The Granbury Theatre Company will welcome you with open arms. And if you can drive home without the tune “Springtime for Hitler” running endlessly through your head, you’re made sterner stuff than me.
Granbury Theatre Company
February 21 – March 22, 2020
Friday & Saturday – 7:30PM
Saturday & Sunday – 2:00PM
Granbury Opera House
133 East Pearl Street
Granbury, Texas 76048
For tickets and information call 817-579-0952
Or visit on the Web at www.granburytheatrecompany.org