Prior to Mel Brooks, no community or professional actor aspired to be a Hotsy Totsy Goosesteppin' Nazi. Now his manic creation, “The Producers,” is on every thespo's bucket list. New Candlelight Theatre in Arden has staged some hilarious shows the past three seasons but this may be the Third Reichian New World Order of them all.
Prior to Mel Brooks, no community or professional actor aspired to be a Hotsy Totsy Goosesteppin' Nazi. Now his manic creation, "The Producers," is on every thespo's bucket list.
New Candlelight Theatre in Arden has staged some hilarious shows the past three seasons but this may be the Third Reichian New World Order of them all.
Consider the genius erupting from this frenzied and fertile mind allied with the stupefaction and surprise of Old Faithful: the outlandish idea of constructing a musical comedy around one of the most vilified fiends in world history. And then achieving it with the seesaw balance of nuance AND take-no-enemies absurdist humor.
Technically this was a daunting task for Director Robert Kelly, the show having as many rapid fire scene changes as laughs. (OK, that ratio is off by a wide margin!) Kelly met the problem by employing monitors flown on above each end and used them as theatre marquis to buy valuable seconds. Kudos to Costume Designer Timothy Lamott Cannon for wrangling more costumes in more scenes with more actors than Aisle Say recalls in the last decades of NCT. (Cannon doubled himself by appearing as the outrageously flamboyant Carmen Ghia, the description of which would send me back to my thesaurus.)
Dear sister Liz and I shared the table with a guest who had never seen "The Producers" in any form. From opening number to the last "Goodbye," she was a one lady laugh riot and Bob Kelly should have paid her to attend. When the production number of the old ladies and their walkers hit, I began madly searching for an oxygen tank on the premise. She really lost it on that one.
This is why this show is so very special in the lexicon of Broadway...the shock and awe.
(New NCT choreographer Peter Rios used Newark native and multiple Tony Award winner Sue Stroman's dance charts).
The five leads were spectacularly cast. David Wills (Max) is a demanding role. His character is frenetic; his cunning eyes and conniving demeanor never are afforded a moment of respite. His "Betrayed" in Act II is a veritable tour de force that every actor covets in his lifetime.
Anthony Connell (Leo) continues to make a deep impression on Aisle Say. From the strong lead in "Miss Saigon," to a cross dresser in "Wedding Singer" and now to this wimpish accountant, Connell displays a rare gift to channel each character. His voice is dynamite.
Ulla (Lindsay Mauck)...oh, I will regret saying this...but is so so wonderfully type cast! Her Swedish accent was hysterical. The majority of men in the audience pine over the thought of her fixation on 11am and will forever think of that hour with an erupting new appreciation.
The second most response from the human laugh machine sitting came with Jeffrey Lanigan's (Franz Liebkind) "In Old Bavaria." One would assume he studied for this role by watching "The Guns of Navarone." He parodied the Nazi character perfectly.
Roger DeBris (Dewey Oriente) was the most outlandish of them all. going from a peacockish director to an Adolph Hitler like you have never envisioned. For those readers who saw the movie, in the "Springtime for Hitler" production number, the camera pans to the audience where 500 guests sit catatonic with their jaws dropped to their stomachs. That would have been the reaction of the NCT audience but we were laughing too hard.
The ONLY dinner theatre in the state. A superb value!
"The Producers" through March 17. For information, see NCTstage.org or call (302) 475-2313.