Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Producers at Albuquerque Little Theatre

Leave it to Mel Brooks to make Nazis funny, right? "The Producers," currently running at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, pokes fun not only of Hitler and the Third Reich, but horny, little old ladies, and pigeons who "Sieg Heil" salute, bringing the slapstick laughs to life.

Photo credit John & Carolyn Hogan
The plot centers around Art Tedesco as Max Bialystock, legend in his own mind, who realizes with the help of his accountant Leo Bloom, played by Dehron Foster, that a flop on Broadway is more profitable than a hit. Enter Ulla, the luscious blonde played by Emily Melville, who reforms one of the partners, and the help of Nazi-loving Franz Liebkind, the worst playwright the duo could find, played hilariously by Eliot Stenzel, and the partners are sure they can find happiness at last.

Photo credit Billy Nguyen
But it's Mel Brooks. So, of course, even a musical as bad as "Springtime for Hitler" was intended to be, the critics loved it, and the flop becomes a miserable hit. The audience watches as the two, planning on making millions, instead make their way to jail (for one partner) and to Rio (for the other).

Directed by Henry Avery, the show maintains its Brooksian flavor, including classic moments such as a top hat and white tipped cane dance number, "I Wanna Be a Producer," and the incredible choreography of the Little Old Ladies, whose walkers join them as dance partners in the most giggly & innovative choreography imaginable in "Along Came Bialy."

With lines such as, "I'm not going to the toilet, I'm going into show business!" the cynical humor of Mel Brooks shines through, poking fun and the cast, who is already vocally quite strong in this musical, plays the comedy up without forcing the laughs. Slapstick done wrong is painful to sit through... but slapstick done right keeps the audience smiling, enjoying the silliness.

Photo credit John & Carolyn Hogan
Not to be missed are two more performers whose "Keep It Gay" number delighted me, Daniel Tabeling as choreographer Roger De Bris (debris, get it?) and his partner Carmen Ghia, played by one of my new favorite comedic actors, Joe Moncada. If you saw Joe as Jacob in "La Cage..." earlier this season at ALT, you will recognize the flavor he gives his Carmen, another delightfully graceful, deliciously naughty comedic character.

"The Producers" runs until June 16th at the Albuquerque Little Theatre, and for more information or to buy tickets online, visit

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