Laugh-Loaded PRODUCERS at Methacton Community Theater

by Arnie Finkel

There was precious little “amateur” in Methacton Community Theater’s current offering of Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS. It was, in every way, the best that community theater offers. A neighbor of mine who attended opening night with my wife and me was overwhelmed at the talent displayed in this production. So was I!

First of all to have the guts to attack the multi Tony awarded show was a lot to contend with. The set alone (not to mention the size of the cast required) is daunting. The eleven huge sets were incredible. Kudos to Harvey Perelman and Bob Shindle for building and maneuvering them in Shannondell’s wonderful performance venue.

The lighting effects designed by ever reliable Tom Dinnella (I loved the use of the cyc in the rear for projections) were magical; Ray DiSandro’s sound design kept the balance with the orchestra in perfection; costumers Brenda Hunsberger, Rose Marie Nin and Sue Carney kept the cast hopping from one stunning costume to the next (I was especially in awe of the building dress and the German models numbers).

As to the cast—I can’t say enough about them. The demands placed on Max Bialystock were putty in the hands of Steve Arcidiacono. His “Betrayed” in Act Two was a marvel. His partner in crime Leo Bloom was equally wonderful as portrayed by Brett Kahn. I think he was somehow channelling Gene Wilder. Together they provided a fabric for the other to embroider.

How Tom Blair as Roger De Bris maneuvered in six inch heels I’ll never know. He got his share of laughs and more. His whole gang, Denis Wheeler, Ken Olin, Tyreese Kadle and Ellen Hromada were hysterical.

Franz Liebkind (Steve Carrasco) was a howl especially when singing with a chorus of performing pigeons. And all of the old ladies (some were men in disguise) dancing with their walkers were in tune with the wackiness of the script.

I could write pages on Suzanne Rainear as Ulla. She lights up on stage. She sings (even through a microphone problem) and dances like a true professional. She ain’t bad to look at either.

“Springtime for Hitler”: Rob Frankel, Lindsay Zimmerman, Denis Wheeler, Renee Grant, Tim April.

In the old theatrical tradition that the show must go on, and in the community theater world where there are no understudies, Tim April stepped in as Carmen Ghia with only two days’ notice for an ailing cast member. April was so delicious in the part I can’t imagine anyone else being as good.

Tom Wexler conducted the nineteen piece orchestra and provided exactly the right touch. He kept the well-played music as accompaniment, a virtue not usual in community bands.

The choreographer for THE PRODUCERS was Sally Rothschild. She kept things humming along in the tempo of the show. I loved the humor in the dance to ‘I Wanna Be a Producer”.

Deb Schrager has once again put together a superb performance. I was impressed with last year’s INTO THE WOODS, but THE PRODUCERS was even better. I can hardly wait for next year and COMPANY.

Producers Michelle Miller, Loretta Rurode and Lauren Franz have a hit on their hands. The crew they assembled has done them proud. I can only envy anyone who has yet to see this production of THE PRODUCERS. It’s top notch in every way.

Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Directed by Deb Schrager
November 7,8,14 and 15 2014 @ 7:30 pm
November 9 and 16 2014 @ 2: 00 pm
Methacton Community Theater at
Shannondell Performing Arts Theater
10000 Shannondell Blvd.
Audubon, PA 19403

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