Laugh Until it Hurts as Willow Manor Players present THE PRODUCERS

by Wren Workman

THE PRODUCERS is a longtime favorite show of mine. When I heard that Willow Manor Players were putting it on, my eyes and heart lit up. I personally believe that Mel Brooks may be the funniest man who has ever lived. That means I put on a large cross-armed “This better be non-stop funny” face long before I arrived. Luckily, it was. It’s hard to make someone laugh at a punchline he’s heard well over a dozen times. They succeeded. They succeeded so well my wife had to remind me not to fall out of my seat as I was laughing so hard. When intermission came, I overheard someone saying they had not laughed that hard in years. It seemed an opinion shared by most of the audience.

From the moment you see Jack Sariego (as Max Bialystock) he controlled the audience completely. Sariego oozes a sense of control and charisma while still managing to convince the audience he is a complete creep. Chris Seifert (as the cowardly Leo Bloom) managed to be the mirror opposite of Sariego. For the majority of the show Seifert keeps up a very frightened persona that is well played. Both men have amazing comedic timing, and there vocal abilities were well above par for the local theaters. I am also glad to say that neither man was doing an impersonation of an actor from the movies; both men took control of their characters and gave them their own flair and timing. Sariego and Seifert had a lot to live up to and they did it completely. These men both go far and above proving they have what it takes to be THE PRODUCERS.

Tara Dromgoole (as Ulla Inga Hansen…) did a fantastic job as a singer and dancer, and did an even more fantastic job of making sure her body was held in the perfect place for a joke to work. Dromgoole really highlights not just how being attractive and talented an actor must be, but how important blocking, and an actor who can remember it, can be to a show.

Andrew Kind-Rubin (as Franz Liebkind) was non-stop funny on stage. Kind-Bubin also was hilarious to watch while dancing, always doing his choreography three steps larger and over the top then everyone else, which fits his character perfectly. Debbie DeKalb (Hold Me Touch Me) did an amazing job as the most recognized of the “Little Old Ladies” and she really stole her introductory scene from Sariego.

Now last but not least is Joel Rosenwasser (as Roger DeBris) and John DiFerdinando (as Carmen Ghia). These two men stole the show completely. Every time they were on stage, they owned it. Rosenwasser is another actor in this show who really knows how to use his body to comedic effect. Whether he was dressed as the Chrysler building or a Nazi, he was perfectly in control of his posture to ensure the right laugh came off. DiFerdinando was exquisite as Carmen and was by far my most favorite Carmen to date in any production. DeFeridnando pulls off both, endearing, and raging queen at the same time. He was fay, footloose and free when he needed to be and even when his character breaks for a moment (as part of the show) he still manages to get one of the biggest laughs.

Now for the Ensemble…they did a very good job.

Just kidding, the Ensemble did a great job. The Usherettes (Decker, Goral, Starke) were all fantastic dancers throughout the entire show. All who participated as part of the big Act II tap number were wonderful and bright smiles the entire time. The little old ladies dancing was one of my favorite moments in the show (even with men disguised as some of the ladies). The ensemble all did great jobs of filling all the little parts, they’ll never win the glory of the show, but without them it wouldn’t have been half as good.

The costumes were impeccable, the prop department and sets were all very good. The pigeons had me laughing as hard as any character in the show. The lighting was very well done, and the stage crew did a fairly good job. However, this is where I will pick at the show slightly. The downstage right curtain kept creeping into scenes, sometimes obscuring the otherwise gorgeous set. Also, one of the stage crew had on a very brightly colored hat during one of the background scene changes, and my eyes went directly to them. It was far from ruining the show, however when the rest of the show was so perfectly funny, those small quibbles become quite a bit glaring.

THE PRODUCERS is an amazing show, and well worth your time and money to see. You will laugh often and hard throughout the entire show. Give a little wave to the pigeons for me.

Book by: Mel Brooks & thomas Meehan
Music by: Mel Brooks
Original Direction and Choreography by: Susan Stroman
Directed by: Matt Reher
Musical Director: David Zagorski
Choreographer: Betty Pearce-Smite
Producers: Kevin Gallagher, Linda Worral
November 8-16, 2013
Willow Manor Players
at Abington Jr. High Little Theater
Susquehanna Road & Jericho Road
Abington, PA 19001


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