Review: ‘The Producers- A Mel Brooks Musical’ at Peterborough Players
Mel Brooks’ Tony award winning musical farce, ‘The Producers’, tells the story of long-time Broadway Producer Max Bialystock and accountant Leo Bloom who form a partnership to pull off, what they think, is a masterful scheme to make a few million dollars by producing the biggest musical flop Broadway has ever seen. With original direction and choreography recreated by Gus Kaikkonen and Bill Burns, the Peterborough Players’ production kept the audience laughing aloud despite the many technical nuisances that occurred.
Oy-vey with the sound issues! While this production was funny and featured talented performers, they were unfortunately over shadowed by the multiple sound problems that occurred throughout the production. The most notable being the muddled sound quality with a number of the individual microphones. There were many instances where I was unable to understand what the actors were singing because of a lack of clarity, crispness and, at times, balanced volume. In addition, there were multiple occasions when actors’ microphones were on while they were not on stage and their conversations could be clearly heard over the actors speaking on stage. You know things are not going well when the actors on stage are being distracted by hearing voices coming from the speakers that they shouldn’t be hearing and are trying to subtly motion to people off stage that their microphone is hot and to stop talking. Furthermore, while the orchestra, led by music director Michael Sebastian, adequately played the music, they often drowned out the actors.
However, even with the technical problems, the cast, led by Players favorites Kraig Swartz and Tom Frey as Max and Leo, kept the audience engaged in the story and laughing throughout almost every scene. Their voices blended nicely together and they had a fantastic, believable camaraderie. Elyse Collier, as Ulla, delivered a strong performance with consistent character choices and fantastic dancing skills. It was unfortunate that her microphone was one that continued to have problems making it difficult to hear and understand her consistently during the show. Strong and very funny performances were also given by Leon Axt, as Franz Liebkind, and Danny Vaccaro, as Roger DeBris. Both men had sharp comedic timing and powerful vocals that were nicely showcased in their solo numbers. Another highlight of this performance were the superbly danced production numbers including “I Wanna Be A Producer”, “Keep It Gay”, and “Springtime for Hitler”. The large cast shined in these numbers that allowed them to portray their unique characters and show off a few special tricks. The tap dancing sections were especially well done with crisp, clear and unified sounds.
‘The Producers’ runs about 2.5 hours including intermission and plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, through August 13th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out www.PeterboroughPlayers.org.
Photo Credit: From L to R- Tom Frey as "Leo", Elyse Collier as "Ulla", and Kraig Swartz as "Max". Photo Courtesy Peterborough Players.
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