For the first show of its gala 2011 season, the North Carolina Theatre will present a zany Broadway-style production of The Producers, a multiple Tony Award®-winning 2001 Mel Brooks musical comedy, on Feb. 12 and 13 and 15-20 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC. The other three shows in the NCT’s 2011 season are Hello, Dolly! (May 7-15); Hairspray (July 23-31); and Evita, starring Lauren Kennedy as Eva Peron and Ray Walker as Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Oct. 22-30).
Set in New York City in 1959, this side-splitting stage version of The Producers features music and lyrics by Mel Brooks and a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, based on director and screenwriter Mel Brooks’ classic 1968 film comedy, starring Zero Mostel as unscrupulous Broadway producer Max Bialystock and Gene Wilder as Max’s reluctant apprentice in greed Leo Bloom. Brooks won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay — Written Directly for the Screen for The Producers, and Wilder received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
North Carolina Theatre guest director and choreographer Bill Burns will stage the Raleigh regional theater’s presentation of The Producers, and it will star Broadway veterans Michael McCormick as Max Bialystock and Stacey Todd Holt as Leo Bloom — a role that Holt played as a replacement in the original Broadway production. McCormick and Holt previously teamed up on the Great White Way in Elf, a 2010 musical with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan.
“I was working in New York City when the original Broadway production of The Producers opened [in 2001],” recalls director/choreographer Bill Burns. “Later, I was hired as resident director for a National Tour of The Producers. And since, I have mounted numerous productions throughout the United States, Japan, Korea and Mexico.”
He adds, “I was very interested in working with [The Producers’ director and choreographer] Susan Stroman and Mel Brooks on such a blockbuster musical comedy.”
The Producers made its Broadway debut on April 19, 2001 at the St. James Theatre, where it played for 2,502 performances before closing on April 22, 2007. The show won twelve 2001 Tony Awards, including the Tonys for Best Musical, Best Original Score (Mel Brooks), Best Book of a Musical Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan), Best Actor in a Musical (Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Gary Beach as Roger De Bris), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Cady Huffman as Ulla), Best Direction of a Musical (Susan Stroman), and Best Choreography (Susan Stroman).
NCT director/choreographer Bill Burns says, “The story centers on Max Bialystock [Michael McCormick], a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer, who meets Leo Bloom [Stacey Todd Holt], a meek accountant who dreams of being a Broadway producer. Max devises a scheme to raise more than enough backers’ money to put on a Broadway flop, close the show, and keep the money for themselves.
“Throughout their journey,” Burns says, “they meet several crazy characters; Leo falls in love with the woman of his dreams, both men get thrown in jail; and, in the end, they realize that their true friendship is what matters most.”
In addition to director and choreographer Bill Burns, the North Carolina Theatre creative team for The Producers includes producer Carolee Baxter; assistant director Shari Jordan; musical director Edward G. Robinson; technical director Bill Yates, Jr.; set designer Robin Wagner; lighting designer John Bartenstein; costume designer William Ivey Long; costumer Ann M. Bruskiewitz; properties manager Laurie Johnson; sound designer Brian L. Hunt; and stage manager William Alan Coats. (Note: The show’s sets and costumes were originally created for NETworks Presentations, LLC of Columbia, MD.)
Bill Burns says, “The Producers is a truly large-scale Broadway production, and mounting it in such a short amount of time is difficult.”
He adds, “The set is a wonderfully colorful and vibrant depiction of 1959 New York City and the theatre district, with some over-the-top surprises at every turn…. [The lighting is] Big bright and brassy!”
Burns says the show’s costumes are “beautiful 1959 styles and over-the-top-dazzling theatrical designs.”
On its website, the North Carolina Theatre cautions Triangle theatergoers: “Please note that The Producers contains irreverent humor, mature subject matter, and inappropriate language. Come and enjoy a night of hilarity!”
NCT guest director and choreographer Bill Burns concurs, “The Producers is a Mel Brooks’ comedy, filled with his sense of humor. Audiences all over the world have literally doubled over in laughter. It’s a fun evening in the theater!”
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 9th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/02/09/976400/the-producers-on-deck.html.
The North Carolina Theatre presents THE PRODUCERS at 8 p.m. Feb. 12, 3 p.m. Feb. 13, 8 p.m. Feb. 15-18, 2 and 8 p.m. Feb. 19, and 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 20 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, NC in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $25-$75, except $15 Student Rush Tickets sold to students and educators with ID one hour before curtain.
BOX OFFICE: NCT Box Office: 919/831-6941. Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000, 919/834-4000, or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/936938.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) will audio describe the 2 p.m. Feb. 19th performance.
The Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Producers_(1968_film) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063462/ (Internet Movie Database).
The Musical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Producers_(musical) (Wikipedia) and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=10510 (Internet Broadway Database).
Mel Brooks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Brooks (Wikipedia), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7689 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000316/ (Internet Movie Database).
Michael McCormick: http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=71495 (Internet Broadway Database).
Stacey Todd Holt: http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=70524 (Internet Broadway Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review,a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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