Theatre Review: ‘The Producers’ at Kavinoky Theatre

The Cast of ‘The Producers’ at Kavinoky Theatre.

As a story teller, I am drawn to stories that seem over the top and that have goofy concepts. When I was first introduced to the work of Mel Brooks, I couldn’t help but think that this man understood how to tell a story. No matter how ridiculous it might be, his work was unique, fun, and most importantly, entertaining. I was in ninth grade when the musical film adaptation of “The Producers” came out. When I heard the song “Springtime For Hitler” I laughed so hard that I instantly knew that I had to see it live. That chance never came around, until today. Finally, after twelve years of being introduced to the musical “The Producers” I got to see it live.

. . .an extraordinary production. . .Do yourself the favor, go see it!

“The Producers,” written by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, tells the story of a down on his luck Max Bialystock (Norm Sham), a has been Broadway producer who has not had a hit in a long time. When an anxious accountant, Leo Bloom (Brian Mysliwy), comes to do Bialystock’s books, he announces that a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit! This sends the pair on a journey to put on the worst play ever written. What do they come up with? A Neo-Nazi Musical called “Springtime For Hitler.”

The Kavinoky’s efforts on this big Broadway show are admirable. Sure there are a few little rough patches, but the good outweighs the bad. David King’s set design is fantastic for this production and allows the countless locations in the story to each feel unique and it keeps a fun aesthetic throughout the entire show. The almost seamless scene changes are amazing, and the cast and crew really sets the bar high for themselves and other productions in the area of this caliber.

Norm Sham leads the show as Max Bialystock, the role created by Nathan Lane in the original Broadway cast. Sham does a great job with the comedic line delivery, and gets all the laughs with the physical slapstick that he brings to the show. His rendition of “Betrayed” is a crowd pleaser, and get’s wonderful laughs as he recaps the show.  

Brian Mysliwy is fantastic as Leo Bloom. Mysliwy sounds just like Matthew Broderick and holds nothing back when it comes to physical comedy, singing, and stage presence. His is absolutely hysterical and he was meant to play this part. Even thought his vocal performance is similar to that of the original Broderick’s, he makes the part his own. His rendition of “I Want To Be A Producer” is spot on. He does not disappoint.

Arianne Davidow plays Ulla, the Swedish actress hired to be a secretary/receptionist for Bialystock and Bloom, to a tee. She beautifully enters the stage and has no problem playing the sex symbol in this show. Her performance of “When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It” is a show stopper. She is funny, and brings great ‘conflict’ to the story.

Greg Gjurich is wonderful as Roger DeBris, the worst director in New York, hired to assist in mounting the biggest flop in history. Along with Marc Sacco’s Carmen Ghia, the two have wonderful chemistry and are instant crowd favorites, especially in their performances during “Keep It Gay.”

The ensemble backs these actors up and they do a fantastic job playing the countless supporting roles in this show. They are all excellent and deserve a space in this cast. Director Lynne Kurdziel Formato mounts an extraordinary production that will be remembered for years to come. Do yourself the favor, go see it!

Running Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

Advisory: Some Language and Suggestive Themes

“The Producers” runs until October 1, 2017 and is presented at The Kavinoky Theatre at D’Youville College in Buffalo. For more information, click here.