According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"The Producers (2005)," by Aaron Riccio

Freed from the confines of the stage, "The Producers" never misses a beat or an opportunity to delight in a good sight gag. Even the credits, which feature a "classical" version of "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop," are funny. With the tight focus of Susan Stroman's direction (she also helmed the musical, so these are familiar hands), you won't miss a beat either, unless you blink. Every frame is crammed with classic Brooks humor, and even (especially) the new additions to the cast, Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman, know exactly how to milk a scene, despite playing to an invisible audience. Nathan Lane, though: he's the glue that holds this whole thing together. Though his spontaneity and ad-libbing are absent (or blocked by the impersonal barrier of film), his sense of self—deprecating and rotundly jubilant—is not. Nor his frenzy, that manic Brooksian energy that makes a song like "Betrayed" worth the price of admission alone.

The only wrong turns—minor flaws—are the occasional lapses where Stroman seems compelled to add some little theatrical flourish, just to occupy more space on the screen. Also, the "Springtime for Hitler" sequence just isn't as impressive as it was on stage, perhaps because the meta-narrative of watching a movie watching a play is too thick. And of course, Matthew Broderick, who, despite being likeable, seems all too aware that he's putting on a show.

The dancing, singing tour-de-force that took Broadway by storm is even more powerful here, meeting the bar and leaping over it. Be it Little Old Ladies doing a tap dance with walkers, a mad chase through the streets of New York while singing "We Can Do It," or the brilliant dream-sequence of "I Wanna Be A Producer/Unhappy," this new "Producers" is an unmistakable and not-to-be-missed hit.

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