Tuesday, February 25

The Producers

- April 11, 2018

There are moments at the start of a show when you heart sinks and tonight was one. The orchestra struck up the overture and it was wobbly, first night nerves I guess, because from that point on wobbly was not my word of choice – far from it!

Apollo Productions have yet to disappoint me. Their work is of a constantly high standard, but tonight I was genuinely blown away. The Producers is a whopping great show about whopping great Broadway shows, so nothing could small, skimped or cheated. We got the real deal decent settings, cleverly spare, great costumes and good lighting. The orchestra soon picked up the pace too – we were in for a treat.

So what makes a show like this work? All the aforementioned of course but above all talent, and the stage was larded in it. A massive chorus of talented performers who could sing, dance, act and do comedy, it is after all Mel Brooks and a gag a minute. Well honed direction, every gag beautifully timed and played, and stunning choreography including a massive tap routine that we hoped we would get, all too often the tap is dropped and that’s never good. There was precision, athleticism and downright silliness too – I loved it.

So finally to the principals. Firstly Ollie Wray’s camp but macho storm trooper, hilarious but also fine voiced. Next Lara Sweeney who as Ulla put the oomph into the love interest and again a stunning voice. Frankie Davidson’s sibilant Carmen Gaia was delightfully arch and Rocco Biancardi’s Franz Liebkind beautifully childlike and absurd, the only way the character should ever be played.

Tony Bright brought alive Roger Debris the cross-dressing director with a show stopping performance that had me crying with laughter, beautiful facial expressions and twitches to defrost the stoniest heart. In the lead roles Chris Herriots’ Leo Bloom was the perfect balance of sweet innocence, gullibility and finally greed and remorse, utterly believable and with a sweet voice to match. I guess the toughest role to tack has to be Max Bialystock, too many great performances already to measure against – but there was no need to measure, David Villiers had all the greasy addictive charm of the devious but loveable producer and for me more of that iconic performance in the original movie by Zero Mostel. Wonderful stuff, classy, high production values but above all a stage filled with talent.

The Old Market

10 April

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★

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