Russ Abbot

The Producers

Last night we went to see The Producers (UK) (US tour) (The Stage info). This was an excellent show, and for sheer entertainment was one of the best things I've seen in a while.

The Leo Bloom character was Joe Pasquale, and Max Bialystock was Cory English (though to be honest I wouldn't have known if it were an understudy). Both were excellent. I was worried about Pasquale squeaking his way through the piece, but he can go deeper if he needs, so it worked well.

The pair worked well together, and had little nods to the audience when needed, for example, Bialystock through a large sheet of paper across the stage, which drifted and landed in the waste paper bin.... the audience cheered. He acknowledged it, looked amazed and asked 'shall we put the fourth wall back up?' before carrying on with the number - he pitched it exactly right.

The playwright was excellent, and his pigeons were choreographed very well.

The star turn had to be Russ Abbot, who was excellent. Honestly. Russ Abbot played the director of the play. His entrance was very well handled, spectacular one might say. He carried off his dress that looked like the Chrysler Building with applomb. He also has what is my favourite line in the piece, the one about 'the singing Hitlers over to the left, and the dancing Hitlers to the right, please'.

The major set-piece was the actual staging of 'Springtime for Hitler'. This they handled beautifully.

Goose-stepping chorus-girls? check. Smarmy looking guy dressed in black singing the lead? check. Big mirror over the stage for the dance routine? check.

I was wondering how they'd manage the 'signature' routine, would they have enough people? The answer was no, but it didn't matter - they got around it in such an elegant way (think of what the PoWs did to avoid the Germans picking up on an escape, i.e. having a dummy in place of a prisoner). Essentially each dancer stook in a contraption flanked by two dummies, they then controlled the legs of the two dummies allowing them to 'march' in formation. It worked, it really did.

The Producers is something that is worth seeing, we came out with big grins.

For those unfamiliar with 'The Producers', it should be mentioned that the show is about making a bad-taste show in order to try and produce a flop - so it's not about glorifying Hitler and his ilk. At one point the playwright complains 'you've made Hitler look stupid', to which the Russ Abbot character said 'he didn't need our help'.