The Producers – Review

The Tower Theatre
reviewed by Jenni Balow

It was shocking, outrageous and insulting and I loved every minute of it – a satirical masterpiece – that was how a Broadway critic rated the play by The Producers, and I couldn’t put it better if I tried.

Political correctness went out of the window when Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan got together on the script, first for a film, and then a multi-award-winning musical brimming with Jewish humour at its sharpest and aimed straight at the heart of Hitler.

Have you ever seen a racing pigeon give a Nazi salute with its wing? Well, you will if you watch carefully in this outstandingly funny production by the London-based actors of the Tower Theatre Company.

This is an amateur production, but it’s one of the slickest stage shows you’ll see on this side of the Atlantic, and given the full blast of Mel Brooks’ controversial, offensive and tasteless wit it deservedly wins a standing ovation.

Director David Taylor ensures the staging is sparkling and spectacular and fit for Broadway, the costumes are fabulous and funny and the tap-dancing and choreography by Jane Saunders fills the stage along with sound by musical director Colin Guthrie and his Band.

The entire cast are the stars of the show, headed by the larger-than-life Philip Halpin as Max, (who ad-libs that he doesn’t only run a theatre in the round, but on a cliff too), Daniel Bogod as Leo, his neurotic but lovable accountant, the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe lookalike, Katie Waller as Ulla, the nutty Lee Thompson as Franz, the delectable Edward Walsh as Roger, the simpering Angus Jacobs as Carmen and lustful pensioner Alison Liney as Hold-Me-Touch-Me, plus a multi-talented chorus.

For anyone who hasn’t got the picture by now, a plot to produce “a sure-fire flop” is hatched by showman Max and the previously innocent accountant Leo, using a fistful of dollars invested by some very naughty grannies, who back him on their backs.

The duo reckon they can run away with a fortune if the show closes after the first-night, so they seek out the worst writer, a Nazi obsessive in helmet and lederhosen, and director, a transvestite dressed as the Chrysler building in New York.

The show, Springtime for Hitler, a gay romp, with swastikas flying, is an overnight sure-fire success, the critics love it, and the investors want their money back. The story goes from there until Max finds himself in a prison cell – with fetchingly striped black and white duvet and pillow.

Eventually a judge finds the defendants “incredibly guilty” but there’s no cause for concern – just don’t mention the war.