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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 Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 film of the same name, with music and lyrics written by Brooks himself. The story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway show, which they hope will flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals, Nazis, and many show business inside jokes.

Although the musical includes many scenes and comedy taken from the film, there are also a few differences. The film was set in the present day of its release, 1968. In the original film, Max and Leo seek to procure $1,000,000. In the musical, it has become $2,000,000. Ulla has a much larger role in the musical and Franz Liebkind is portrayed more sympathetically and comes to a happier ending than his 1968 counterpart. Overall, the musical is more upbeat than the original film, which was a darker comedy. At the 2001 Tony Awards, The Producers won 12 out of its 15 nominations, setting the record for most nominations and wins in history, becoming one of the few musicals to win in every category for which it was nominated.

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  

Chris Daniels
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~ 

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Max Bialystock: Adrian Villegas
Leo Blum: Austin Schulte
Roger De Bris: Adam Blanchard
Carmen Ghia: Marcus Veyette
Ulla: Allison Bossart/Tessa Rawlinson (alternating)
Franz Liebkind: Coleton Ray
Springtime Stormtrooper: Sam Melvin
Usherettes: Sophia Courtemarche/Kat Lewis/Cassidy Love/Autumn Thelander
Hold Me Touch Me: Annalise Fox
Lick Me Bite Me: Hannah Schooner
Kiss Me Feel Me: Mollie Mersh
Blind Violinist: Calvin Proctor

FIRST NIGHTERS: Mayron Ayenew, Lauren Beebe, 
Kelsey Colburn, Sierra Darwin, Danny Duarte, Anna Fujii, 
Alex McCrimmon, Bailee O'Connell, Claire Sala, Sophia 
Santana, Bella Saporito, Hannah Schooner, Tani Song, Isabel 
Ucar, Kai Arroyo, Will Boyer, Daryn Nguyen, Dylan Schmoll, 
Austin Skaggs, Chris Vournas, Lucas Wilson
WORKMAN: Damon Williams
COP: Sam Melvin
NEWSIES: Jacob Kurihara, Sean 
McCrimmon, Matthew Rangel
BAG LADIES: Juju Foster, Chyna Gudgel
BUM: Michael Kriesel
2 NUNS: Lizzie Hearn, Mollie Hersh
SAILOR: Jordan Halloran, Seth Merrill
STREET WALKERS: Brenna Donovan, Malia 
Merrill, Jessie Ruggiero, Helen Thome
BOBBY SOXERS: Rylie Herbel, Darla Jacobs, 
Dorothea Seibert Von Fock, Marlee Tierney
WAITRESS: Allison Bossart, Tessa 
NURSE: Maddie Jackson
CPA: Will Boyer-Montgomery
PA'S: Danny Duarte, Michael 
Kriesel, Blake Laszlo, Daryn Nguyen, Damon Williams
SHOWGIRLS: Sophia Courtemarche, Brenna 
Donovan, Lizzie Hearn, Rylie Herbel, Kat Lewis, Cassidy 
Love, Malia Merrill, Jessie Ruggiero, Dorothea Seibert Von 
Fock, Autumn Thelander, Helen Thome, Marlee Tierney
NOT YOU GIRL: Delaney Raupp
PIGEON PUPPETS: Mayron Ayenew, Lauren Beebe, 
Maggie Keller, Alex McCrimmon, Sophia Santana, Lauren 
BRYAN: Damon Williams
KEVIN: Blake Laszlo
SCOTT: Sam Melvin, Sean McCrimmon
SHIRLEY: Bailee O'Connell
SABU: Kai Arroyo
SAILOR: Seth Merrill
LITTLE OLD LADIES: Lauren Beebe, Kelsey Colburn, 
Jordyn Fletcher, Juju Foster, Anna Fujii, Grace Gillett, 
Chyna Gudgel, Maddie Jackson, Maggie Keller, Marina 
Loukatos, Jessie Patzlaff, Delaney Raupp, Emma Rutkowski, 
Jordan Schochet, Tani Song, Amanda Sprowls, Mallory Stiles, 
Lauren Watkins, Maddie Webb
JACK LAPIDUS: Dylan Schmoll
JASON GREEN: Calvin Proctor
DANCING HITLERS: Will Boyer-Montgomery, Mia 
Buck, Danny Duarte, Chloe Hubbard, Maggie Keller, Marina 
Loukatos, Delaney Raupp, Sophia Santana, Sheridan 
Scarborough, Lauren Watkins
TICKET TAKER: Tegan Kennedy
TENOR STORMTROOPER: Sam Melvin, Michael Kriesel
BAVARIAN PEASANTS: Lauren Beebe, Sarah Beilicki, 
Kelsey Colburn, Sierra Darwin, Cara Fitzgerald, Annalise 
Fox, Anna Fujii, Grace Gillett, Maddie Jackson, Darla 
Jacobs, Monique Miley, Emma Rutkowski, Bella Saporito, Tani 
Song, Sydney Stapp, Mallory Stiles, Isabel Ucar, Kai 
Arroyo, Jordan Halloran, Jacob Kurihara, Michael Kriesel, 
Daryn Nguyen, Dylan Schmoll, Austin Skaggs
FOLLIES GIRLS: Sophia Courtemarche, Brenna 
Donovan, Malia Merrill, Helen Thome
TAP DANCE STORMTROOPERS: Lizzie Hearn, Mollie Hersh, 
Anneliese Leach, Kat Lewis, Sydney Milo, Jessie Patzlaff, 
Matthew Rangel, Jessie Ruggiero, Jordan Schochet, Autumn 
STALIN: Damon Williams
CHURCHILL: Blake Laszlo
FDR: Lucas Wilson
PRECISION STORMTROOPERS: Jordyn Fletcher, Juju Foster, 
Chyna Gudgel, Rylie Herbel, Cassidy Love, Alex McCrimmon, 
Bailee O'Connell, Hannah Schooner, Natalie Segundo, 
Dorothea Siebert Von Frock, Natasha Sokoloff, Amanda 
Sprowls, Victoria Stewart, Marlee Tierney, Bella Volkov, 
Chris Vournes, Maddie Webb
SERGEANT: Will Boyer-Montgomery
OFFICER O'ROURKE: Damon Williams
GUARD IN JAIL: Daryn Nguyen
JUDGE: Dylan Schmoll
FOREMAN OF THE JURY: Michael Kriesel
PIT SINGERS: Sarah Beilicki, Mia Buck, 
Tiffany Dennis, Cara Fitzgerald, Chloe Hubbard, Tegan 
Kennedy, Alicia Mansfield, Sydney Milo, Sheridan 
Scarbourough, Natalia Segundo, Natasha Sokoloff, Sydney 
Stapp, Bella Volkov, Josie Yadrick

Director: Tim Nelson
Costume Designer: Courtney Gilio/Danielle Bazan/Julia Capelle
Hair/Makeup Designer: Courtney Gilio
Set Designer: Molly Godlewski
Lighting Designer: Faith Burke
Sound Designer: Sydney McWilliams/Sam Parks
Choreographer: Diane Makas/Tim Nelson
Musical Direction: Tim Nelson
Orchestra Conductor: Gregg Gilboe




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