The Producers

For a fresh-sounding Mel Brooks joke, rent Blazing Saddles

Sure, it's Mel Brooks; sure, it started as a now-ancient film; and sure, taking it seriously just kills the fun. But The Producers feels old. You have the tasteless flaming queers, the busty flute-voiced Swedish blonde, the boobie jokes, the people making whoopee behind a couch. I appreciate this vintage stuff as much as anyone, but from all the hype surrounding Brooks' show (and all its Tony Awards) I honestly expected something new. The story of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom trying to mount the very worst play they can find -- Springtime for Hitler -- as a musical directed by the very worst production team on Broadway (cue flaming queers) would be perfect at about two hours, especially with Bob Amaral as Bialystock and the not-quite-sane Bill Nolte as Franz Liebkind, a neo-Nazi playwright. Only Brooks could dream up a line like "Every hotsy-totsy Nazi stand and cheer," and the scene with two dozen old ladies dancing and soaring across the stage with walkers and tiny purses puts me in a good mood just to remember. But this touring show, in the end, has the feel of a wheezing train. The last few scenes are a silly mess, and anyone hoping for a fresh-sounding joke from Brooks' satirical imagination will have to wait more than three mortal hours, until the inevitable standing ovation -- and then go home and rent Blazing Saddles.

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