Posts Tagged ‘comedians’

Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’

Original Direction & Choreography Susan Stroman

Directed by Matthew White

Empire Theatre. Sunderland. United Kingdom. 14th May 2015

 

Aristotle once wrote:  “One swallow does not a summer make…” This morning I went theproducersIntacross the road for a sly fag – I’m not allowed to smoke in the house, see, (I’m not allowed up on the furniture, either) – only to see not one but two swallows hunting insects on the wing. A brief burst of the joy of life swelled in my chest to be quickly replaced by the rattle of a coughing fit.

I smiled. Aristotle’s intent was to opine on the fact that a momentary flash of happiness does not necessarily make for a happy man. I concur. I’ve been fairly unhappy recently – more so since the British general election where I observed another proverbial bird not only voting for Xmas in their droves but happily mixing-up and applying their own stuffing.

Proof, if ever it was needed, that given massive amounts of money and control of the agenda, you can persuade the most normal of people to do the most stupid of things.

Still, I appreciated the glow provided by the swallows, so fuck you, Aristotle! I’m happy for the moment and I intend to stay that way for as long as possible.

I’ll admit though, that, swallows aside, my joy-pump had been primed previously by a visit, last night, to the Sunderland Empire to see Stroman and Whites production of Mel Brooks’ ‘The Producers’ – and quite frankly I’ve been buzzing ever since.

Brooks’ wonderful creation has an enduring appeal to successive generations, perhaps holding greater resonance just now both due to recent events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the intolerance of fundamentalists to criticism of their ideas exemplified in the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the rise of Islamic State.

Neither of these were at the forefront of my mind as I took my seat for Saturday evenings performance and cracked open a tub of popcorn. As I said, I’ve not been particularly happy lately and was looking forward to a bit of a chuckle. For the first fifteen minutes that, unfortunately, is all I got.

You may recall the story: Max Bialystock, a failed Broadway producer, employs an accountant, Leo Bloom, who notices an anomaly in the books whereby a show that closed after its opening night on Broadway could make more money than one that had a successful run. Bloom, after an internal tussle with his conscience is persuaded to partner Bialystock to produce Broadway’s greatest failure making them both rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Now, generally, setting up the narrative that leads to the inciting incident – in this case the decision to implement the fraud – can be a slow and painful process for many plays. The director has to give the impression of plodding normality whilst secretly developing character and racing to get to the moment where the world turns upside down so s/he can get on with expressing the real reason for the performance – telling the story, telling what happened next.

‘The Producers’ doesn’t suffer from this, yet… the first 15 to 20 minutes were missing something?

Quite what was missing I wasn’t too sure? Not initially at least: The dialogue was snappy; the narrative easy to follow; the song and dance routines brilliantly performed and choreographed. Perhaps we were all in a state of shock at the incredible singing ability of Leo Bloom (played by comedian, Jason Manford)? Whatever the reason the overly polite and somewhat forced applause from the three–quarter-full house following each routine said that they were eager for something more.

They got it with the entrance of Ross Noble. Ross plays Franz Liebkind, ex-Nazi stormtrooper, pigeon-fancier, and author of the worst-play-in-the-world: ‘Springtime for Hitler’. Aficionados will recall the scene where Liebkind is visited in his pigeon-loft by Bialystock and Bloom as they attempt to secure the rights to his play. From the moment the German-helmet-wearing Franz turns and manically faces the house (Noble gets a huge cheer at this) it becomes obvious what the production has been missing so far: the explicit involvement of the audience. Noble, after a six-month tour of his latest comedy show, can’t help, however subtly, acknowledge, and play to, the audience. The audience in its turn acknowledged that we knew that he knew that we knew that he knew, etc’. In that instant the Fourth Wall came crashing down, the audience visibly relaxed, and this stage production of The Producers became what all stage productions of The Producers secretly long to be – a grand British pantomime of high camp.

From that moment on I barely had time to catch my breath. Tears were constantly being brushed from my cheeks as the audience applauded, hooted, hollered, and laughed out loud. The intermission came and went and we seamlessly, and joyously, picked up where we left off. Scene by scene flew past as stunning performances fell effortlessly from the entire cast as we romped towards the climactic – and spectacular – Broadway showing of ‘Springtime for Hitler’. A truly amazing scene replete with giant hydraulic arms that rise from the wings in a Brobdingnagian Nazi salute, worthy of a standing ovation all of its own. [click image to enlarge]Producers

It would be inappropriate to mention the beautiful performances of David Bedella as Roger De Bris, or Stephane Anelli’s wonderful Carmen Ghia, or the colossus that was Cory English as Max Bialystock, or Tiffany Graves’ ‘Ulla’, or Jason Manford’s voice – yes, it really does have to be heard to be believed – without bringing your attention to the inch perfect, pitch perfect display of the entire Ensemble. May they never, ever, rest.

Simply put, ‘The Producers’ has to be the funniest thing I’ve seen in years – trust me, I’m not a Doctor.

Okay, there was that first fifteen minutes, but maybe this was down to my comedic bias expecting Manford to play to the room when perhaps the development of Bloom’s meek character was more important? There was also a moment, in the later prison-scene during the denouement, where Noble, now in a wheel-chair due to two broken legs, does nothing more than move across the stage. An opportunity missed for the popular character to say au revoir to the audience? Perhaps. I certainly think so.

Whatever, none of this detracted from the sheer joy of this production. A joy that lays out and then transcends the lesson that tragedy plus time always equals humour, and that stupid ideas are always deserving of ridicule.

This is a truly great show and one that shouldn’t be missed.

So, can one show a summer make? Most definitely. Had Aristotle been at the Sunderland Empire on Saturday, he’d still be pissing himself with laughter. United Kingdom residents feeling particularly depressed following the General Election should make this performance an essential part of your recovery.‘The Producers’ will keep you feeling happy for weeks on end and should be made available on the NHS.

Kill for a ticket – Unlike Hitler, you won’t regret it.

Anvil Springstien.

Rating: Four and a half anvils

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Website, Tickets, and Tour Dates:

http://theproducersmusical.co.uk/

pics © theproducersmusical.co.uk

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Crowd-funding has never been so much fun! And now with all with the Security of PayPal, too! Peace of Mind and mild joviality – what more could you ask for? Well, quite a lot more, I imagine? But hey, it’s a hard life and we should all be grateful for what we have – at least that’s what they say, whoever ‘they’ are? Actually, as an aside, someone should point them out – if indeed them are they, as they, quite frankly, could do with a good punching. Anyway, enough of that shit – on with the show…

Welcome to ‘The Beta Bar’, where all the Big Dicks hang out!

Forget Patreon, Ozcrowd, and Indiegogo, now you can watch your seed funding matched penny for penny with alcohol consumption! The process is simple: every drink your hard earned money buys, allows Anvil to spend an equal amount of money on the development of this site once he has sobered up.*

(*see small print)

Easy, isn’t it. And everybody wins! You’ll feel warm just knowing that Anvil feels good. You’ll feel good just knowing that Anvil feels better. And you’ll feel great in the knowledge that Anvil is totally shitfaced and laying face down in a monsoon ditch.

Yes, you can now support this site by allowing Anvil to focus his meager finances solely on providing increased quality content, both written and AV, whilst simultaneously continuing to maintain a rather high Blood Alcohol Content courtesy of your wonderful kindness.

Simply choose your level of support from the Happy Hour Menu below where you can pop in and quickly nip to the bar for a fast one, or stay all night and get trashed:

What You Have To Do:

Simply click on the beverage or food item you wish to purchase for Anvil, and you’ll be whisked away to our PayPal portal – don’t worry, you can change your mind once you’re there – seriously though, buying booze for people with a drink problem has never been so easy, or so secure.

You don’t even need to have a PayPal account of your own!

What I Have To Do:

Pledge (and small print): I, Anvil Springstien, being presently sober(ish) and of sound(ish) mind, do hereby declare to abide by the promise to consume all donations of alcohol/food, by type or accepted equivalence, and, moreover, to match aforesaid donations with similar financial/work input into the website/blog/comedy mausoleum known generally, legally, and specifically as anvilspringstien.com and hereby and forever forthwith regarded to as ‘The Site’ as it’s easier to write. Witnessed this 14th Day of July in the year of the Sweet Baby Jesus Blah Blah Blah, Big Red Stamp.

Note: All prices Australian Dollars ($AU) and are correct as post went to print.

Approximate Conversions:

  • 1 Pound Sterling = 1.82 Dollar AU
  • 1 Dollar US = 1.06 Dollar AU
  • 1 Euro = 1.45 Dollar AU

 The Happy Hour Menu:

Pint of Coopers PaleAdditional Options

Anvil’s Favourite Tipple. Coopers Pale Ale. That’s $6.50 AU that can be now be spent on more colourful Site Paint! Or go towards a new Theme or at least some new wallpaper?

Whisky ChaserAdditional Options

Ooh, Jameson’s… lovely, and another $7.00 AU on blogboard for repairs to the site’s back walls where the water gets in after heavy rain. Great for the ulcer, too – makes one appreciate the Ying and the Yang. The Pleasure and the Pain.

Packet of CrispsAdditional Options

You can’t have a Pint without Nibbles! Another batch of Letters – Sans Serif. Only $4.75 AU – allowing Anvil to create proper words and throw out all thoughs cheep misspelt wons. It’s never been the same since we outsourced words to China.

Get a Full Round InAdditional Options

Well, if yer goin’ the Bar… That’s a Pint, a Chaser, and a bag of Salt & Vinegar crisps, please matey! Another $18.25 AU that Anvil could spend on screen ink! Especially the Black screen ink as it’s more visible against the white background. Got ripped off with all that cheap white screen ink last year. Doh!

Another Round Old ChapAdditional Options

Cor, Two Rounds – What a gent! $36.50 AU will nearly pay for all these Yellow buttons. Need the loo, excuse me… We’ll be Ad’ free before you can say, ‘Fuck me, I’m fucking fucked, yer fuckin’ fucker’!

Quick Last OrdersAdditional Options

Wow! Three Pints, three Chasers, three bags of Crisps – That’s the whole evening more or less paid for? I Fuckin’ love you. I really do. Oops, gorra’ go… Christ, hey, once you’ve had that first three pint power piss, eh! $54.75 AU. I can just picture looking through the WordPress ‘Premium’ upgrades and trying to focus… hic! Mmmm, upgrades. Mmmm, premium.

KebabAdditional Options

Well almost the whole night paid for. You know you shouldn’t but you just can’t say no, can yer! Cheap as chips but not as edible at $8.75 AU. 

The Full MontyAdditional Options

How did I know you were gonna’ do that? $63.50 AU, Ya Bassa!  It’s great when someone lashes you up all night, innit! Think we’ll need a Taxi at this rate? Shit, Taxi? I’ll need another bloody button?

Collect The Set!

Any of the eight will get you in the ‘BIG DICK’ Hall of Fame, which basically means I’ll write your name below this text or get some stickers printed that say something like ‘I got Anvil blatted!’, or something like that next to a comedic picture of a large penis? A Full Monty will get special attention and be written in Bold or Italic – or even Both.

I’ve arranged with PayPal to allow a brief Salutation or Message upon completion of your investment which will accompany your name below.

A Word to the Wise…

There will, of course, be the haters, the naysayers, and the doubters. People who will shake their heads at the new, turn their backs to the innovative, ignore the game-changer in plain sight. To those I can say only this, I came up with this idea half-way through a liter bottle of duty free Gin earlier this evening… I’ve just thrown the empty bottle in the bin. Nuff said yer fucka! Crack open the Jameson’s!

Sláinte

(every Backer will have their good health cheered thus)

Anvil Springstien.

Addendum: The Morning After the Night Before

Christ, my head hurts? I’ve just woken up and, after a cup or two of very strong tea, slowly started to piece together the events of last night? The paper-trail began with the strobing screen of my laptop. Easily remedied by the removal of the rather large and quite empty bottle of Gordon’s gin that was lying across the keyboard depressing an irrepeatable (is that a word?) combination of keys.

The screen slowed like an impatient fruit-machine and clunked to a stop on a blog post I’d been writing whilst obviously under the influence of gin and therefore the devil. It’s at times like this I rush to check my phone log, email sent box, facebook page etcetera, to see what bridges have been burnt throughout the period of inebriation. Fortunately the blog post had held my full attention.

I’d just finished reading through the above post and was tentatively about to follow the links to PayPal when my email client pinged – It was PayPal congratulating me on my first sale!

What?

I’ve just checked through the links – they all work. I’ve checked the PayPal account and it’s all set up correctly. I’ve just checked my first backer – who is about to be listed in the Big Dick Hall of Fame, below, and everything is kosher.

What more proof do you need that this system of Crowd-Funding works?

As if that wasn’t enough, my notepad next to the overly hot lap-top has numerous sketch-notes for future blog-posts concerning an alien entity who travels to Earth by utilising the uterus of a middle eastern teenager as a Stargate. They are provisionally titled ‘Space Jew’, and ‘Space Jew II – The Awakening’.

I will not be able to make sense of these notes without you. Without your help I will not be able to release the creative demon that lies within. Remember, this is not a scam. I will not secretly use your investment to buy groceries, or milk. No, 100% of your purchase will be spent exactly according to your wishes. I may/may not develop a young child in need of a life saving operation at some future date solely at my discretion.

The Big Dick Hall of Fame

Ms Jan Pugh.

Newcastle upon Tyne. United Kingdom. PINT! Salutation: “Hold the pint in your right hand and press it to the left side of your chest while you say the magic words “Stevie G is a God”. YNWA. Love you, MJP x.”

Anvil sez:  Sláinte, Ms Pugh! I hope your purchasing experience was as easy as it looks, A big hug to you, too x

Mick Ferry.

Oldham. United Kingdom. DRINK: PENDING. Salutation: PENDING

Anvil sez: Are you going to the friggin’ bar then, Ferry, or what? I’ll have a whiskey!

Sam Park.

Köln. Germany. Full Round! Salutation: “Get a Full Round In!”

Anvil sez:  Sláinte, Girl! Already had enough booze to change the site theme – hope you like it. xxx

Jason Cook.

United Kingdom. Pint! Salutation: “Add to mouth. Repeat as required. MUST be drunk to excess.”

Anvil sez:  Sláinte, Mr Cook, May your cock be as firm as your pen. x

John Miles.

Austen, Tx, USA. Chaser! Salutation: “Two fingers from a Redneck to an Aussie!”

Anvil sez:  Sláinte, Mr Mills. You’re confused as to my nationality but hey, no worries, too easy, no dramas, mate. What’s tha Skip’? Kiddie down a well? x

Silas Ferne

Newport News, Va. USA. DRINK: PENDING. Salutation: PENDING.

Anvil sez Sláinte, My Hamshank friend, an email saying you will buy me a drink is simply not good enough. I can’t drink an email! Please click on the PayPal button of your choice and put your money where your mouth is. You are supporting art for fucks sake!

Steven Kirk – Pert to Perth DVD

Ellenbrook. Western Australia. A Full Round! Salutation: “Get a full round in!”

Anvil sez Sláinte Steven! That hardly seems fair seeing as you fed me last night as well! Follow the link and buy this great mans DVD – it’s awesome as we say in Strayaaa!

Jane Kay Park.

Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. A Full Round! Salutation: “Don’t forget the Solpadine! xx”

Anvil sez Sláinte, Grandma Parkie! I’ll return that drink at Crimbo!

Kai Militzer.

Germany. A Pint! Salutation: None

Anvil sez Sláinte, Danke schoen, Kai. I’ll buy a nice cold German blonde with that. Leave as message next time!

Rob Brown.

Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. A Full Round! Salutation: None

Anvil sez Sláinte, Hope the gardening is looking up. Here’s to an Indian Summer, hic! x

Nick Munby

Berlin. Germany. The Full Monty! Salutation: None

Anvil sez Sláinte, Hope Berlin is treating you well, my old friend x

Cory Brooks.

Perth. Western Australia. A Full Round! Salutation: Booze or fuel for you bucko. Safe travels! p.s. Did I tell you I bought the KLR yet? 🙂

Anvil sez Sláinte, Can’t wait to see the KLR! I’ve split it fifty fifty on Booze and Fuel. Cheers matey!

Chris Donald.

Newcastle upon Tyne. United Kingdom. A Pint! Salutation: Cheers Pal!

Anvil sez Sláinte, Cheers Chris! Hope the weather ain’t too bad up there just yet.

Paul White.

Leeds. United Kingdom. A Full Round! Salutation: None.

Anvil sez Sláinte, Cheers Silky! Have a Great Crimbo and enjoy those gigs!

A DRUNKEN NOTE:

Certificates of Entry into The Big Dick Hall of Fame will appear in your email client in-box as soon as I sober up.

ANOTHER DRUNKEN NOTE:

A reply to our American Cousins who have asked what a ‘Geordie Accent’ is – as mentioned in the ‘News’ section. I’m presently writing a piece on ”Geordies and their accent, so watch out for that, but briefly whilst I’m drunk:

Geordies are denizens of the North East of England. So called because of their historic support of King George in one of the many wars between England and Scotland.

Famous for their impenetrable dialect, speakers of which were used during the second world war to confound the enemy who were intercepting allied radio communications.

These  speakers were known as ‘Windtalkers’ and their story was told in the 2002 movie of that name starring Nicholas Cage, where Hollywood infamously re-wrote history replacing the British Army’s Geordie Lads and Lasses with US Marines and native american Navajo Indians.

Upon its release outside of the US, it was seen as both implausible and shameful – though quite comical – to watch native american actors mimic the now famous words, “KeeeGan! KeeeGan! KeeeGan! LeekNackTheFookinFookahsYaFuckah!!” which translates literally as, “One may as well attack as one has no defence”.