Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Guest review - The Producers at Paper Mill Playhouse

A big thank you to Jennifer Niederhoffer for this guest review of The Producers.

Credit: Jerry Dalia
When I saw that the Paper Mill Playhouse was going to present The Producers this fall, I have to say that I was pretty excited. While I had seen the original 1968 movie starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder and the 2005 movie version of the Broadway musical, I never saw this live on the stage. I'm happy to say this production was a delightful way to finally see this Mel Brooks classic in person.

For those who aren't familiar with it, The Producers is the tale of downtrodden producer Max Bialystock, "The King of Broadway," who teams up with Leo Bloom, a nebbish accountant with big Broadway dreams ("I Wanna Be a Producer"). They realize that putting on a terrible (and I mean TERRIBLE) show would allow them to collect money from investors and just make off with the cash as soon as the show closes... on "Opening Night," that is. They find the worst show they can find—just a little something called Springtime for Hitler—and put flamboyant director Roger De Bris in charge to create something that's sure to be a bomb. Unfortunately for Bialystock and Bloom, things don't work out quite this way ("Where Did We Go Right?"). Throw a Swedish knockout/love interest into the mix ("That Face"), and you know it's going to be a hot theatrical mess. 

I laughed out loud from beginning to end during the show when I had the chance to see it at the Paper Mill Playhouse. I imagine the actors feel like they have enormous shoes to fill, stepping into the musical's roles originated by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, but Michael Kostroff and David Josefsberg are simply terrific as Bialystock and Bloom, respectively. Ashley Spencer (who I loved on the reality tv series Grease: You're the One that I Want) is simply irresistible as Ulla, and the cast is well-rounded by John Treacy Egan as playwright/unabashed Nazi Franz Liebkind, Kevin Pariseau as De Bris, and Mark Price as De Bris' sassy "assistant" Carmen Ghia. 

The question: Is The Producers appropriate for kids? My answer is no, unless they would understand why a show about a show called Springtime for Hitler would be funny. Not to mention the jokes about shtupping old ladies. So, while I recommend trying to see this show before it closes on October 23, I highly suggest getting a babysitter for your kids.

The Producers is at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside DriveMillburn through October 23. For more information, visit

Jennifer Niederhoffer is the founder of Impress Media, an independent lifestyle & entertainment public relations and editorial services firm.  You can follow her on twitter @impressmedia or @themommysreview.

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