Arts and Entertainment

Broadway-caliber talent hits Issaquah stage

Richard Gray (Max Bialystock) and Company.  - Photo by Jay Koh, Village Theatre
Richard Gray (Max Bialystock) and Company.
— image credit: Photo by Jay Koh, Village Theatre

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a Broadway junkie.

Having recently moved back to Washington state from the Big Apple – where I spent most of my Friday nights perusing the Great White Way - good theatre has been something I’ve craved. So when I heard that Village Theatre’s production of “The Producers,” would close the 2011/2012 season, I was quick to jump at the chance to review the show.

But for being a arts freak with an unhealthy relationship with Broadway, I must concede, that before being assigned this review, I knew little more about Mel Brooks’ award-winning musical than what I read online. What I found upon checking it out last night was almost three hours of Broadway-caliber talent both clever and magical.

Keeping in line with the original movie and stage productions (which I researched extensively) Village Theatre’s presentation was full of hilariously offensive one-liners and musical numbers both cringe-worthy and enjoyable - characteristics I would assume to be standard when dealing with a musical, within a musical, that features a campy Adolf Hitler singing show tunes about Nazi Germany. Yeah.

While the focus of the plot is clearly the working relationship between Bialystock and accountant-turned-producer Bloom, I found, that on several occasions, the supporting cast stole the show. I’m a sucker for over-the-top theatrics, and in this vein, the scenes featuring Nick DeSantis as flamboyant Broadway director, Roger DeBris, and Chris Ensweiler’s as DeBris’ daffy assistant, Carmen Ghia, were right up my alley.

Also of note is David Anthony Lewis’ superbly comedic take on Franz Liebkind, a former Nazi whose musical about the fallen Führer is targeted by Bialystock and Bloom. A six foot tall man wearing Lederhosen could stand on it’s own as one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen; add to the mix Lewis’ exaggerated mannerisms, and I’m about 99.7 percent sure this is the funniest character I’ve ever encountered.

As promised by DeSantis, the “Along Came Bialy” number toward the end of Act I was a moment to relish: 20-odd frisky old maids tapping across the stage with walkers? Yes, please. Trying to figure out which male ensemble members are hiding under those gray wigs and dresses? Even better.

Another high point of the night was the elaborate take on the controversial “Springtime For Hitler” numbers. It’s obvious the set crew saved all the tricks for the climactic show within a show – and the Vegas-style vaudeville act shines in all its glittery glory.

It’s a laugh out loud spectacle you won’t want to miss.


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