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 vs. The Producers: Review by Liza White

The Producers, the movie musical about two producers who realize they can potentially make more money with a flop than with a hit, is just what a musical should be with its outrageously funny cast, flawless choreography, and larger than life directing. But what the general movie going public may not be aware of is how the director Susan Stroman has kept the musical true to its original Broadway roots not only by preserving the dynamic partnership of Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick but also by keeping the original costume designer William Ivey Long, bringing in current and former cast members of the Broadway show to make cameo appearances and only adding to her original choreography to heighten its beauty on the big screen.

In preparation for the movie’s release, I saw The Producers on Broadway and was thrilled to see a show where every single detail from the cast to the set was of the highest quality (something I always think costly Broadway should be but never quite is). The current Broadway cast takes Mel Brooks’ already provocative comic script and pushes the upper middle class audience to the edge of their seats with swastika dance formations and flamboyant displays of homosexuality. The audience not only gets the jokes but recognizes a “hit” when they see one. The ensemble acting, especially John Treacy Egan and Hunter Foster as Bialystock and Bloom, more than fills the big shoes worn by the original Tony award winning cast.

The movie version had the same big shoes to fill plus the added pressure of producing a successful modern movie from a traditional musical, something move makers just can’t seem to grasp. But Stroman’s keen eye for detail and deeps roots in the theatre smoothly transitions this Brooks classic to the big screen. The only new celebrity additions to the show were Uma Thurman as the Swedish bombshell, Ulla, and Will Ferrell as the Nazi playwright, Franz Liebkind. While Thurman looked and sounded more beautiful than ever she just couldn’t get comfortable in her dancing shoes. Ferrell, on the other hand, was uncharacteristically natural as Liebkind. I hope he will reprise the role on the Broadway stage.

The other standout performances in the movie were not so much Lane and Broderick (though their performances were solidly funny) but Gary Beach and Roger Bart as the gay director Roger DuBris and his partner Carmen Gjia. Tony winning Beach, who is still playing this eccentric role nightly on Broadway, brings down the house both in and out of a wig. But the performance that steals the show is most certainly Bart’s. Better known as the creepy pharmacist George Williams on Desperate Housewives, his conniving grin, comic timing, and unwavering love for his partner shine on the silver screen and reinforce his Tony nominated original performance. From the flawless chorus girls to hilarious celebrity stars, this made in New York musical has given movie musicals a new standard to live up to.

The Producers (the movie) is now playing in select cities and opens nationally on December 25.

The Producers (on Broadway) is currently playing at the St. James Theatre located at 246 W. 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Ave.
Tuesdays at
7:00 PM
Wednesday through Sunday
8:00 PM
Wednesday and Saturday at
2:00 PM
Sunday at
3:00 PM.
For tickets call 212-239-5800 or 800-432-7250.

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