by Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts
The Academy for the Performing Arts at Huntington Beach Union High School has just delivered a smashing, resounding
first weekend success with their superb production of Mel Brook’s outrageous musical comedy, “The Producers.” The
show, directed by Tim Nelson, runs for one more weekend, October 21st through 23rd at the Historic Auditorium and
Bell Tower at HB High School.
The premise of the production is that Broadway musicals flop all the time. “A producer can make more money with a flop than a hit,” explains Max Bialystock (played by Adrian Villegas), once called the King of Broadway, and now a middle-aged, failed producer, writer and director, to a young accountant, Leo Bloom (Austin Schulte), who has come to audit Max’s books.
While examining Max’s books, Leo discovers a $2000 error. Max has actually made $2000 on a show that is a complete failure. Max cajoles Leo into cooking the books, by hinting that they form a partnership. Leo confesses to Max that it has always been his dream to become a Hollywood producer. Max then proposes the ultimate scheme:
“Step 1: We find the worst play ever written. Step 2: We hire the worst director in town. Step 3: We raise two million dollars...One for me, one for you. There are a lot of little old ladies out there! Step 4: We hire the worst actors in New York and open on Broadway and before you can say Step 5, we close on Broadway, take our two million, and go to Rio!”
Leo refuses to immediately step up to Max’s scheme, but continues to daydream about the prospects of becoming a theatrical producer. Within a short time, Leo makes the decision to quit his job and joins Max as his partner, singing “I Wanna Be a Producer.” These two new partners put their heads together and search for the worst musical play possible, and after hours of fruitless search, the perfect flop finally falls into their hands – one of the most completely tasteless, racist, sexist musical of all times, called “Springtime for Hitler.”
The next day, the two ambitious producers head for the rooftops of Greenwich Village to meet with the slightly off Ex-Nazi author/playwright, Franz Liebkind (Coleton Ray), and his playful pigeons Otto, Bertha, Heinz, Wolfgang and Adolf. Franz demands a litany of conditions to be fulfilled before he will sign the contract, including that Max and Leo join the Nazi Party! Before they can get Franz to finally complete the contract giving them the right to mount the show, they have to join Franz in singing Hitler’s favorite song, “Der Guten Tag Hop Clop”. Following the signing of the contract, they escape the rooftop revelry with the signed contract in hand, now headed for the exclusive townhouse of Roger DeBris (Adam Blanchard), admittedly the worst flaming gay director in New York. They need to sign Roger to direct the show, upon which Roger insists that he has full license to change the outcome of the war in the show, so that Hitler wins it. The scene is enhanced immensely with the over the top mannerisms of Roger’s partner, Carmen Ghia, colorfully played by Marcus Veyette.
After they return to their office, a most beautiful blond Swedish goddess named Ulla (alternately played by Allison Bossart and Tessa Rawlinson) shows up to try out for their new production, who they decide to hire to clean the office. Eventually she is given the lead part of Eva Braun. Act 2 highlights the show Springtime for Hitler in all its crazy glory. Hitler is of course played by the flamboyant director DeBris, who sings the self-serving "Heil Myself," reminiscent of Judy Garland. Author Liebkind is originally chosen by Max to play Hitler, but due to an unfortunate accident, he breaks his leg and Max then asks DeBris to play Hitler. The swastika choreography at the end is displayed to the audience via a projector that is raised, à la A Chorus Line. Franz waits until after the performance to confront the producers, and although hobbling with a broken leg, attempts to kill them under the accusation of making a fool out of Hitler. Unfortunately, he breaks his other leg while trying to run away from the police. Max ends up in jail, Leo and Ulla flee to Rio, but all ends well at the trial as Leo comes through for Max.
“The Producers” is a terrific show in every respect, a laugh a minute, that gets more insane with every passing scene. There was no important take-aways that was noted, other than an occasional mis-step in the group numbers or something that fell on the floor accidentally. The level of talent was actually astonishing and vocals were amazing in each of the 27 musical numbers. The direction by Tim Nelson was really quite brilliant and the casting was perfect. The costumers, led by Courtney Gilio, were superbly fitted and blended perfectly into that era. Scenic designer Molly Godlewski produced a set that was not only exact in detail but also seamless in scene change. The lighting by Faith Burke, again outstanding. Choreographer and APA Director Diane Makas, along with Tim Nelson, excelled in coordination, especially in the musical numbers. And the 34 piece orchestra under the direction of Gregg Gilboe seemed flawless in presenting the score.
The Producers from this award winning school plays through October 23rd, which will be the closing performance. Don’t miss it! I guarantee it will be a night remembered!
Performed October 14 - 23, 2016
Photos by Nancy Hickey
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