The Producers: Markinch Musical Society triumph with Mel Brooks’ classic musical

I often wonder if the stage musical The Producers could have debuted today in this woke culture. With swastikas and songs glorifying Adolf Hitler and exaggerated characterisations of Jews and gay people the show may have never made it to the stage.
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But it did and after music producer David Geffen persuaded writer Mel Brooks to stage a musical after his 1967 hit movie the show opened in Chicago in 2001 before hitting Broadway and over 2500 performances. They won record-breaking 12 Tony Awards then came to the UK in 2004 winning three Olivier Awards. The 2007 theatre tour had such luminaries as Peter Kay, Joe Pasquale and Russ Abbot.

A huge challenge for MAOS the Markinch Musical Society but they have never shied away from big productions since they opened way back in 1926 with Dogs Of Devon. This production of The Producers was all ready to go too until the dreaded lockdowns of Covid put an end to performances with just one week to go.

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So, it was all systems go this week as they finally hit the stage with a quality presentation directed by Nigel Orkney. The story surrounds a failed Broadway producer and his insecure accountant who comes up with the scheme that if they can secure investors for a flop show they can close after one night and run off with all the sponsor’s cash. Casting the worst director and lead they can think of and securing the rights to Springtime For Hitler the show opens and surprises everyone as it’s a hit.

The Producers cast.The Producers cast.
The Producers cast.

This MAOS production is certainly a hit with brilliant characterisation in the many complex roles. Craig Spence plays the Max Bialstock part made famous by Mel Brooks and his clumsy misogynistic crooked persona is spot on with the Brooklyn accent never faltering.

Young Michael McLean acts beyond his years as Leo Bloom with an air of slapstick, great vocals and fall guy comedy while his eventual muse Ulla (played by Ann-Marie Miller) becomes the Swedish glamour interest in her first role for MAOS and shows her fine comedy skills along with an extended vocal range while still in character.

Jon Brown as the Springtime writer Frank Liebkind is a comic book Nazi taking ‘break a leg’ literally and the duo of Roger DeBris (Andrew Butchart) and Logan Booth as Carmen Ghia offer high camp and flamboyance rarely seen and enjoyed these days, with the latter in impossible strappy heels without losing a step.

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The large supporting company have several roles and costumes engaging in song and clever choreography devised by Jane Duffy and the lavish ten-piece orchestra conducted by Musical Director Peter Thomson were a joy from the opening overture. The staging by Calum Dale was well prepared using minimum props but utilising extended areas on both sides (provided by Fife Lighting & Sound Hire) and all helped by a huge scene setting video wall supplied by Artistic Solutions Ltd.

The Producers at Markinch Town Hall.The Producers at Markinch Town Hall.
The Producers at Markinch Town Hall.

This was a triumphant production with limited resources as they now plan ahead for 2025 and Anything Goes, a show they first performed in the 1997/98 season, but this year will see a massive fundraising campaign for MAOS.

The lighting and dimmers in Markinch Town Hall have been condemned and an upgrade would be in the region of £25,000. This means the amateur music group have to hire in all the lighting kit for their performance week at a premium cost to give the audience the production as expected with all the technical effects of a West End show.

Markinch Town Hall until Saturday, March 23 at 7:15pm. Tickets: [email protected]

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