‘Producers’ play presents hilarity

ReAnne Utemark

Okay, I’ll admit, I am a bit uncultured and did this whole “Producers” thing backwards – I saw the movie first. While Matthew Broderick and particularly Nathan Lane play Mel Brooks’ characters with precise comedic timing, the actors of the Topeka Civic Theatre make the comedy something hotter than cooked books.

Brooks’ work is layered with sarcasm, Jew jokes and risqué humor that is so laden with innuendo you can’t help but giggle either uncomfortably or because your sense of humor is as twisted as his. With masterpieces like “Young Frankenstein” and “History of the World Part I”, the Producers holds its own and the TCTA cast really brings it to life.

The story is a romp through the backstage of Broadway. Former golden Broadway producer, Max Bialystock, has lost his luster with a series of flop productions. Leo Bloom, the jumpy, mousy accountant who comes along to do his books happens to notice that a producer could make more money with a flop than with a hit. Off the story goes as Max and Leo become partners and find the worst script in the world, “Springtime for Hitler,” and the worst director in the world, the over-the-top Roger DeBris, and set out to make the worst show in history. Max raises the money by, ahem, schtupping every little old lady in New York and Leo fixes the books. Hilarity ensues as “Springtime for Hitler” is a hit and Max and Leo slapstick their way through it.

Robb Baker and Les Smith shine particularly brightly as Max and Leo, and their energy is amazing throughout the entire show. They are two among many standout performances, including Washburn graduate Greg Krumins as Franz Liebkind, the Nazi straggler with carrier pigeons and author of “Springtime for Hitler.” Also, Michael Hagen and Michael Dieker as DeBris and his common law assistant, Carmen Ghia are absolutely hilarious and don’t hold anything back from their cartoonish characters.

This was my first show at the Topeka Civic Theatre and Academy and I was not disappointed. Indeed, I am excited for the entire season and will be a regular.

Oh, and the show was much better than the movie.