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Lust! Greed! Nazis! The
offends all


Originally, theater was meant for the dregs of society. The
Romans said the rabble would stay content if only they were
distracted by “bread and circuses,” and those distractions
became the first stage productions. So it’s sort of ridiculous,
the way theater has become something that only the elite tier
of society is supposed to enjoy. In reality, Shakespeare was
just a bigot poking fun at the Jewish moneylenders of his day,
and the royal advisors were horrified that the Queen liked such
low productions. So if you think of it like that,
The Producers is
really theater the way it was meant to be.
The Producers is a
loud, bawdy, politically incorrect attack on everything –
EVERYTHING – about American society and the Broadway
scene. But then, that’s what Mel Brooks must have intended
when he adapted his 1968 film sensation for the stage – to
create one of the most offensive shows of the 21st century.

It takes a lot of effort to craft a decent insult: it takes set-up, it takes timing, it takes … theater. Nevertheless,
people don’t call Mel Brooks the master for nothin’, and he didn’t hold anything back when he wrote this
particular script. Before the curtain falls on the final number, everyone from the elderly to the people of Germany
ought to be offended. To provide an example, lets examine my favorite scene. A director, who’s got more drag
than the Indy 500, is dressed in a floor-length sequined gown. He consults his “common-law assistant” on the
need for more gayness in theater. The couple launch into a stunning musical number in order to really drive their
point home, joined by a more upper-west-side version of The Village People. The stereotypes of that scene
alone are enough to feed a hundred protest rallies for the chronically uptight bleeding hearts of America, and
even I caught myself wondering if it would be OK to laugh. And I think jokes about dead babies are strangely
hilarious. This is definitely a shocking production.

The basic plot-line – two crooked producers deliberately flopping a show for profit – banks entirely on a neo-Nazi
production extolling the virtues of Hitler and Eva Braun. The original film title was actually “Springtime for Hitler,”
but when producers threatened not to release the film, the title was changed. Legend has it that actor Peter
Sellers had to intervene with the executive producer to get the film released at all, simply because it was so
offensive. Barely more than twenty years after the end of World War II, Hollywood was still reluctant to release any
film mocking Nazism, and Germany never showed the film until it was aired during a festival celebrating Jewish

But while the film version languishes on movie store racks nation-wide, the Broadway adaptation has just hit
Boston, enjoying a two week run at The Colonial in the Theater District. And between watching Bob Amaral (as
Max Bialystock) dance around schtupping old ladies and Rich Affannato (as Carmen Ghia) lisp his flamboyant
phrases, it’s certain to be as much of a hit in Boston as it is everywhere else. First adapted for the stage in March
of 2001,
The Producers has been so successful that the film will be remade starring Nathan Lane and Matthew
Broderick. Scheduled to start shooting this month with Brooks at the helm, the new film should be released at
the end of 2005.

While movies have been getting progressively cruder, however, it’s fascinating that such an offensive show is an
incredible hit with erudite society. To date,
The Producers has won more Tony awards than any other play – and
this is a musical in which a grown man pulls out a rag of a blue blanket and wraps it around his head whenever
people get too close to him. This is a show in which a blonde bombshell from Sweden, who speaks majorly
meager English, dances her way to stardom with a little tit jiggling. This is a show where chorus girls dressed
up like German Panzers twirl with female S.S. officers in pillbox hats with Rhine-stone swastikas. This is a show
where a gay choreographer with a codpiece to rival a prize-winning watermelon shoves his odious package in
the face of countless men. A “very friendly Cherokee” lights up to “smokem um peace pipe.” And again, a
crooked producer darts around sleeping with the geriatric set in order to make some money. But I guess the
moral of the story is that theater is just better when it’s lewd, crude, and comically dead-on. After all, everything
has more quality if it’s old school.

Catch The Producers at the Colonial Theater until March 6th, or get more information at www.broadwayinboston.