When Mel Brooks turned his film The Producers into the 2001 Broadway musical, you might have thought the Messiah had either come or come back. The New York theater industry fell to its knees, handing Brooks 12 Tony Awards, rivers of ink and the right to charge $450 a seat.
The show's the story of producer Max Bialystock, who discovers, with the help of accountant Leo Bloom, how to make a million bucks by producing the worst show of all time. So Bialystock and Bloom bring to Broadway Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden.
Since it's Mel Brooks, you know the book's going to be funny. But because Brooks also wrote the lyrics and music, you might be surprised how tuneful the score is. Steeped in an old-Broadway style, The Producers is a testament to Brooks' desire (if not compulsion) to entertain. (I should warn you that this deliberately offensive show is not to everyone's taste; I find most of it appalling.)
Stage 62 presents the non-academic local premiere, featuring a huge cast and crew loaded with Pittsburgh talent and directed by theatrical wünderkind Stephen Santa. All of them are probably stretched out on gurneys right now, wondering how they can get a double of whatever Lance Armstrong was having.
You're never not aware of what a huge undertaking this production was for the company — and for comedy to be truly funny, it should appear effortless. The upside is that you can't help but cheer when they clear each summit. Short of breath, perhaps, and maybe a little worse for the wear, but they made it, goddam it!
David Cary and Chris Martin are extraordinarily entertaining as Max and Leo, with solid comedic support from Carl Hunt, Seamus Ricci, Rob James and Sara Barbisch as the lunatics surrounding them. Music director Cynthia Dougherty and choreographer Nathan Hart deserve special mention ... as does a far too lengthy list of design, backstage, technical and construction talent.
All of it is held together, seemingly by the sheer force of personality, by director Santa who continues to impress with a theatrical ability far beyond his years.