Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The plot for the cheeky musical is easy to follow: when theatre producer Max Bialystock's latest show Funny Boy (a musical version of Hamlet) tanks, he relives his glory days as the King of Broadway and vows to restore his status in the industry. Enter Leo Bloom (T.J. Lamando), the weird and neurotic accountant who inadvertently gives Max an idea of how to pull it off while auditing his books. Deducing that Max raised more money than he needed for his last play, he quips that "under the right circumstances, a producer could actually make more money with a flop than he can with a hit ... you could've raised a million dollars, put on your $100,000 flop, and kept the rest!"
Max decides to run with what Leo said in passing by proposing that he and Leo, who has a secret dream of becoming a Broadway producer, find the worst play and worst cast and crew to put on a show that's guaranteed to fail. To fund this venture, Max offers sexual favors to little old ladies to open up their wallets. While Leo balks at the whole shebang at first, he quickly comes around when he considers his crappy job. Step by step, the dishonest duo team up to execute their plan, but the outcome doesn't pan out the way they had hoped.
Despite the sound problems that seem to persist in many of their productions, Stage Door Theatre's rendition of The Producers is well rounded and lighthearted entertainment. While maybe not recommended for children and young teens because of the mature and raunchy themes, it may resonate with all other demographics who like to laugh and have a good time. In addition to the shenanigans the shysters get themselves in, there are several other things that will delight theatre patrons.
Firstly, under Clayton Phillips' sharp direction, the cast, from the ensemble to the leads, deliver solid, charming, and committed performances. A modern-day and slightly more serious Laurel and Hardy or Ralph and Norton, Clement and Lamando work so well together that they almost make us forget that the characters that they portray are reprehensible. Almost. Lenora J. Nikitin's costumes are beautiful, posh and well made in every scene. Her Broadway audience is dressed to the nines and evoke the grandeur that one associates with the arts. Costume and set changes are smooth and clean.
The musical numbers paired with Danny Durr's choreography are also fun and memorable. Some of the highlights are "I Wanna Be a Producer," "Keep It Gay," and "When You've Got it, Flaunt It," featuring Ulla (Melissa Jones), a vampy showgirl by night and receptionist/secretary by day. While Ulla shines in most scenes, she is also the subject of one scene that doesn't quite work. When the boys return from a day of hard duping, they find Ulla "painting" Max's apartment, stroking the walls with a dry brush. Using real paint against the surface would have gone further to making this scene authentic.
Overall, The Producers is a triumph. Though the story was originally written by Mel Brooks as a film in 1967, the musical translation was a very successful show that opened on Broadway in 2001, won 12 Tony awards, and inspired worldwide successive productions and another 2005 film. This latest 2.5 hour, 2-act production (with one intermission) at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center does the musical justice.
The Producers may not be winning any awards for virtue and honor, but this version deserves credit for style and humor.
Stage Door Theatre's The Producers, through February 10, 2019, at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, 3800 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill FL. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at www.stagedoorfl.org for $48-$58 or by calling 954-344-7765.