Producing Laughs

CVTG stages Mel Brooks’ classic The Producers

Emily Anderson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

why are two nazis talking to that lumberjack and his pet bird? because it’s musical theatre, duh. Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild players in a rehearsal of The Producers.
 
why are two nazis talking to that lumberjack and his pet bird? because it’s musical theatre, duh. Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild players in a rehearsal of The Producers.

The music, sets, costumes, and stories of Broadway are a magical tradition any musical theater lover can respect and appreciate. And Mel Brooks is out to ruin all of it.

His satirical comedic masterpiece The Producers takes many Broadway stereotypes and throws them back in the audience’s face. The original film, written by Brooks in 1968, was not a musical, but the screenplay was adapted for the stage and the music was added for its Broadway debut in 2001. Stars of the debut, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, also starred in the movie/musical production in 2005.

The Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild and director F. Reed Brown are bringing this musical wonder to The State Theatre May 5-7. Max Bialystock, played by Steve Turek, is a washed up producer in 1959 New York City spending his days putting on horrendous shows and swindling little old ladies out of their money. Leopold Bloom is a meek and miserable mild-mannered accountant who dreams of becoming a successful Broadway producer. The two meet when Leo, played by Evan Wilberg, comes to audit Max’s books for his latest failure of a show and makes an alarming discovery about the potential profitability of producing a flop. Max immediately clings to the idea despite Leo’s objections.

Their first objective is to find the worst play ever written. After days of reading script after script, Max finds the sure-fire flop they’ve been looking for. “See it, smell it, touch it, kiss it,” Max tells Leo. The script, entitled Springtime for Hitler, is described as “a love letter to Hitler.” Max and Leo visit the playwright, an ex-Nazi named Franz Liebkind, played by Michael Renner. After donning swastikas and taking an oath not to dishonor the “great” führer, Max and Leo manage to obtain the rights to the show and set off to find the worst director in town. Luckily, Max knows just the man.

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