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Theatre Review: The Producers

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, July 14, 2011

(Music - It's Opening Night)

People who create Broadway entertainment like an opening scene that grabs the audience's attention. But in 30 years covering shows, I've never come across an opening quite like the one in "The Producers." The showgirls vamp and sing about a glittering new Broadway show. And then in strides the show's leading man -- the guy playing the producer. With his very first words, he irreverently observes:

"The reviews come out quicker when the critics leave at intermission."

As a reviewer, I had to smile. And that opening line puts everybody on notice, because "The Producers" is a cheeky, exuberant satire in the trademark Mel Brooks style, including the jokes about bodily functions. It's a veritable franchise at this point. As Mel Brooks fans have come to expect, this musical skates along on a tide of infectious sophomoric giggles. There's a can-can line of little old ladies with walkers, several over-the-top gays, talkative Irish cops, and a tall sexy Swedish blonde. The show's biggest number features dancing Nazis with swastikas, in a Busby Berkeley-style tribute to the carefree days of the Third Reich.

(Music: Springtime for Hitler)

It's all in dubious taste, which is precisely the point. Now I'm not immune to this show's zany allures, but as a critic, I have to say that several production numbers in "The Producers" are basically filler, and many songs are merely serviceable, and rely on physical comedy to make them entertaining. Fortunately, this production overflows with energy and bawdy charm. Several cast members worked the actual Broadway version, and they're quite good. The Music Circus show delivers the kind of fast-paced frivolity fans have come to expect from a Mel Brooks extravaganza.

Sacramento's Music Circus presents "The Producers"  through Sunday at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.  

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