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Review - The Producers: gloriously offensive

By Liv Wilson

The Producers

Book Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan

Music and Lyrics Mel Brooks

Produced by Queensland Musical Theatre

Director Nathaniel Currie

Musical Director Benjamin Tubb-Hearne

Choreographer Julianne Burke

Assistant Director James Rogers

Lighting Tom Dodds

Sound Josh Catheart

Costumes Deian Ping

Season Fri 21 - Sun 30 Oct 2022 at Twelfth Night Theatre, QLD. Bookings:

The Producers narrative is centred on two Broadway producers, one Max Bialystock who is down on his luck and one Leo Bloom, Max’s mousy accountant turned business partner. The pair come up with a scheme to produce the most notorious flop in Broadway history, thereby bilking their investors out of millions of dollars. Only one thing goes awry: the show is a smash hit and chaos ensues… This hysterical show requires you to leave all prejudice at the door and enjoy every outrageously crude joke; it’s the only show were Nazi jokes are by the dozen and laughter is encouraged!

Queensland Musical Theatre’s production of The Producers was gloriously offensive, just as you want it to be. Many audience members were interested to see if QMT would create a ‘2022 friendly’ version of the show…I’m very pleased to say they kept every last racially inappropriate, politically incorrect and crude joke in!

Tony Campbell playing Max, one half of the leading duo, was outstanding. Campbell’s strong vocals were received well by the audience and I particularly enjoyed his classic New York accent, it was very well done. Tony Campbell pulled off Max Bialystock’s brash humour with ease and performed with some of the best comedic timing I’ve seen in the Brisbane theatre scene this year.

Countering the crudeness of Max was Ray Gilmore as Leo Bloom. Gilmore wowed us with smooth vocals in ‘I Wanna Be A Producer’ and ‘That Face’. The tap numbers, choreographed by Jullianne Burke, were an unexpected favourite of mine. Gilmore was featured heavily in these scenes and demonstrated great technique and style. The physicality of Leo throughout the show is almost cartoon-like and I was impressed with the high level of energy Gilmore brought to this aspect of his character. The chemistry between Campbell and Gilmore was just the right amount of push and pull. The dynamic pair were every bit complementary to each other's performance styles and I thoroughly enjoyed the way they led the show together.

Jullianne Burke did a fantastic job choreographing The Producers. Burke’s choreography was clever, cheeky and polished, making it by far the best I’ve seen all year. She clearly had trained dancers to work with and they helped to add to the spectacle of the show. I have to mention ‘Along Came Bialy’ which was executed perfectly by all ensemble members, each dancer had to dance with props (if you can call little old lady walkers ‘props’) which usually ends in some form of disaster but not with this group- they were polished.

The ensemble was the cherry on top of this tongue-in-cheek show. There were hilarious cameos from the featured ensemble and the talent that peeked through in these moments was phenomenal. In particular was Matthew Butler who played various supporting roles (Public Accountant, Stylist and others) throughout the evening.

Ex-Nazi Franz Liebkind, played by Byron Philp was undeniably one of the funniest parts of the production. His portrayal of the ex-Nazi was possibly my favourites performance of the evening. He played into the perfect amount of on the nose humour and had the comedic timing down pat in every scene. The thick German accent was fabulous and, impressively, held strong throughout Franz’s various songs. ‘In Old Bavaria’ and ‘Der Guten Tag Hop Clop’ were performed wonderfully and showcased some highly impressive vocals.

Kate Retzki played the sexy Swedish love interest Ulla. Her accent was thick and hilariously hard to understand. Retzki had fabulous comedic timing that worked well with the pace that Campbell and Gilmore had already set up. I was most impressed by Kate’s dancing and movement throughout the show. Retzki and Gilmore had two quite extensive dance sequences

A special mention to Steve Beck and Jo Burnette who played Roger DeBris and Carmen Ghia. What a duo! The pair had the audience in stitches every time they were on stage. Burnett dominated their scenes with truly hysterical characterisation while Beck had showstopping vocals that were featured nicely in Act 2.

Mel Brooks' script is masterfully written and I’m very pleased to say that the entire cast at Queensland Musical Theatre pulled off the bold and brassy humour with flying colours. Under the direction of Nathaniel Currie this show was always going to be strong but Currie has raised the bar for comedy in Brisbane with this one.


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