Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

The Producers Invades San Francisco Again

Also see Richard's reviews of Living Out and Fly Me to the Moon

Ida Leigh Curtis
Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are back in San Francisco again pedaling their Springtime for Hitler musical in Mel Brooks' The Producers. This is my fourth time seeing this 12 Tony Award winning musical. It is still as fresh and zinging as the first time I saw it at the St. James in New York with Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick several years ago. I saw the first touring show with Lewis J. Stadlen and Don Stephenson at the Orpheum Theatre and more recently at the San Jose Performing Arts Center with the Bob Amaral and Andy Taylor, the current tour stars.

Amaral and Taylor are working better now, and their timing is perfect. The show looks more cohesive on the Golden Gate stage. There's still magic in the air when the orchestra under Steven Tyler strikes up the first note. The opening number, after the closing of Bialystock's flop Funny Boy, is still as funny as ever and the dancers give their all, with Amaral looking a little like Jackie Gleason and doing a bang-up job.

The Producers' cast remains the same as the July tour. Stuart Marland as Roger De Bris is as flamboyant as ever, but he seems to be really hamming it up before the San Francisco audience, and Rick Affannato as Carmen Ghia goes over the top with his tinker bell moves and oh so fey gestures. They make the scene in Roger's apartment one of the most hilarious scenes in recent theatre memory.

Ida Leigh Curtis still mangles the English language with her faux Swedish accent. She is a looker, there is no doubt about it. The "Springtime for Hitler" number is still stunning and the set looks wonderful. The chorus boys and girls are full of life as if it were opening night in New York. The musical zips along at a fast pace, thanks to Steve Canyon Kennedy's direction, and the sets by Robin Wagner still look fresh.

The Clear Channel organization has wisely been sending out this tour with no extendeded or long stays. Most have been two weeks, and this gets the house filled every night. It is also good since many people could not get tickets for the last tour here so they have a chance to see the show for the first time. It's great marketing.

Here are a few things about The Producers tour that you might like to know. There are 404 costumes, 13 wigs, 400 props, 27 actors, 16 horny little old ladies, 24 orchestra members and 10,000 beads on the Chrysler dress that Roger wears in the great scene in his apartment. There are 208 gold coins on each producer babe dress plus 17 costume changes by one chorus member and 12 hair changes on one chorus member. The company has three company pets and one black cat, nine official show birds, 40 tap shoes, 22 Hitler moustaches, 2,000 hairpins per week, 2 wheelchairs, 6 broken leg casts, 80 gallons of water consumed by cast in one week, 24 Dixon Ticonderoga pencils and one trick sausage (I don't remember the trick sausage).

The Producers runs through October 24 at the Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor Street, San Francisco. Tickets can be purchased at their box office, the box office at the Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St, Curran Theatre Box Office 445 Geary, all Ticketmaster ticket centers and through For more information, visit or Groups of 20 or more contact the Group Sales office at 415-55102020.

The world premiere of Irving Berlin's White Christmas opens on November 3rd prior to its Broadway run. Little Shop of Horrors opens at the Golden Gate on November 10 and runs through December 5th and The Lion King is nearly ending its run at the Orpheum Theatre.

Photo: Paul Kolnik

Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema

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