The Producers – made in 1968 by Mel Brooks – is a candidate for the funniest film of all time.
Is its stage version, from 2001, the funniest musical? Quite possibly.
What is certain is that the Huddersfield Amateur Operatic Society does it full justice, in an energetic, massively accomplished production directed by David Fletcher.
Some words of warning. It contains – as TV continuity announcers coyly tell us these days – sexual references and bad language from the start. And if you are easily offended by the outrageously stereotypical depiction of gays, the Swedish, Germans, the English, Jews, accountants and sexually frustrated old ladies, then stay away. This show could not really be categorised as politically correct.
But if you can overcome any qualms you might have about any of the above, then it is a production to be recommended.
Its cast really relishes the show and the staging is almost faultless.
The story is well known. Geeky accountant Leo Bloom casually informs Broadway producer Max Bialystock – whose latest in a long line of flops is a musical version of Hamlet – that it is theoretically possible to make more money from a failed show than a hit, by securing more financial backing than it needs and ensuring that it closes on the first night.
The duo look for the worst script in the world and find it in “Springtime for Hitler”, a syrupy homage to the Fuhrer written by Nazi refugee Franz Liebkind. What can possibly go right?
The cast is very strong almost throughout and is headed by Chris Fletcher, who dominates the show with an outlandishly larger-than-life performance as Max, a morally and financially bankrupt, utterly loathsome showbiz figure whom we can’t fail to like. It’s a very good comedy performance, with some strong singing too.
The same goes for Chris Fox as Leo, Richard Brook as Franz, Craig Kelly as Carmen and Hugh Raine, who out Inmans John Inman as the jaw droppingly camp Roger de Bris.
Sally Norton also makes a big impact – not least on the lustful Max and the sexually repressed Leo – as Swedish bombshell Ulla.
There are lots of other good contributions, such as Wendy Smith, Melanie Brockway and Celia Poole as three of the wealthy old ladies who bankroll Max’s productions, in return for, er, certain favours. And I really enjoyed the deadpan absurdity of David Heathcote’s Nazi stormtrooper, solemnly singing “Springtime for Hitler” in a light operatic tenor.
In fact, the staging of the famous “Springtime for Hitler” song and dance sequence is terrifically funny all round, with Louise Dowling’s choreography including some fine comedy goose-stepping.
With a slightly less wobbly set, this is a production that would hit professional standards in almost every department. It certainly deserves to be a hot ticket at the LBT for the rest of the week.