Mel Brooks (Book, Music & Lyrics)
Hillbarn Theatre and Conservatory
Perspective #1: Raunchy, crass, insulting, insensitive. Horrible stereotypes that in 2023 seem particularly out of place in light of Me-Too, Don’t Say Gay, dramatic increase in antisemitism, and attacks in state after state aimed at transgender people.
Perspective #2: Riotous, hilarious, sparkling, toe-tapping. So over-blown in portraying stereotypes of gays, Jews, Nazis, good-looking blondes, Irish, and old women that the ridicule is actually aimed at all those bigots who still hold such views.
Which is a more accurate overview of the 2001, twelve-Tony-winning The Producers by the grand master of dark comedy in film and on stage, Mel Brooks? Has enough changed since its Great White Way premiere and huge success that in 2023 the humor of The Producers is just not that funny anymore? Or is it even more relevant than ever as a way to show vividly how ridiculous those stereotypes are and how stupid and mean-hearted are the people who actually believe and act on them?
Hillbarn Theatre and Conservatory puts the case before its sold-out audience on opening night. Based on the almost constant, universal guffaws; spontaneous rounds of mid-performance applause, and the smiles beaming and approvals buzzing as folks exited, The Producers still is seen for what it is at its heart: an in-your-face, pull-no-punches, laugh-at-loud ridicule of the many stereotypes that unfortunately still haunt our society today. The case Hillbarn makes for continuing to enjoy Mel Brooks’ always unconventional, sometimes uncomfortable sense of bizarre humor is strengthened by a production that is in every respect big-stage, Broadway quality in an intimate setting where audience and actors are only a few feet apart.
Please continue to Talkin’ Broadway for the rest of my review.
Rating: 4 E
The Producers continues through May 14, 2023, in production by Hillbarn Theatre & Conservatory, 1285 East Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, CA. Tickets are available online at http://hillbarntheatre.org , by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 650-349-6411.
Please note: All patrons must wear a well-fitting mask at all times inside the Hillbarn facilities and auditorium.
Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka