Theater review: Play about musical flop ‘produces’ laughs

Actors sing about Hitler and dance around the stage in a comedic fashion, to tunes such as “Springtime for Hitler,” “I Wanna Be A Producer” and “Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop.” What play might this be, you ask? The Spokane Civic Theatre’s latest production of “The Producers”.

“The Producers,” based on Mel Brooks’ 1968 film of the same name, was adapted as a musical by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, his longtime friend and writing collaborator. The comedic story tells of how a failing producer and a nervous accountant team up to produce the worst musical possible and try to win over investors for their Broadway flop. With engaging characters and ridiculous humor in every scene, this musical is sure to entertain.

The Spokane Civic Theatre cast does a tremendous job with the play, completely engaging the audience in the story with witty jokes, fantastic musical talent and perfect dance numbers throughout. However, it is a play meant for more mature audiences, with sexual humor prevalent from the start.

Lance Babbitt, who plays Roger DeBris in the play, said rehearsing and preparing for the play was a fairly long process, but that it has been well worth the effort.

“Comedic [musicals] take a little longer than other types. It was a very intense process,” he said. “It took about nine weeks, when it normally takes about six weeks. We had a lot of fun; we’re a very close cast.”

The cast members are from a variety of backgrounds and are different ages. Some have been in the profession for many years and others are acting for the first time.

Babbitt said his favorite part of working with the cast is being able to see all the fun things each person does. He said some actors will go from being a pigeon puppet, to a stormtrooper, to an old lady just within a few scenes.

“Backstage is madness. We have a million costumes and it’s really crazy, but we have a lot of fun,” he said. “And when it finally clicks it’s just an amazingly fun experience.”

Mark Pleasant, who plays Leo, the neurotic accountant-turned-producer, said he loves many things about portraying Leo, including the dynamics of working alongside Jerry Sciarrio, who plays Max, the other producer.

“I love the relationship that Jerry and I share onstage,” he said. “I love my leading lady, and I love the physical comedy of [the play].”

“The Producers” shows at the Spokane Civic Theatre Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Oct. 21. Tickets for students are $22. Student rush tickets may be available for $11 the night of the play if there are seats still available.

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.