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PEMCo. has got it again with ‘The Producers’

Josef Kuhn | Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When somebody says ‘musical’ for most people the image called to mind is that of a corny, family-friendly production a la “42nd Street” or even Disney’s “High School Musical.” Well, if these are typical musicals, then Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” is the anti-musical, which the Pasquerilla East Musical Company (PEMCo.) will perform this hilarious show Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:30 in Washington Hall.Based on the 1968 Mel Brooks movie, “The Producers” is about a money-grubbing, but washed-up Broadway producer and a mousy accountant who cook up a get-rich-quick scheme. They plan on raising two million dollars from investors and then putting on the biggest flop in Broadway history so that they get to keep all of the invested money. To do this, they try to find the worst musical ever written and hire the worst director and worst actors for the parts. The musical they decide to put on is called “Springtime for Hitler,” which speaks for itself.Raunchy, satirical, and devilishly disrespectful, “The Producers” pokes fun at everything from old women, to accountants, to Eastern Europeans. Anybody with a twisted sense of humor will appreciate the sight of Nazi stormtroopers dancing around the stage like a bunch of fairies. It even makes fun of the theatre community itself; one of most innovative and humorous aspects of the show is the way it satirizes its own genre. The show also contains more cross-dressing than the Keenan Revue, and certain scenes strongly resemble New York’s Gay Pride parade.If you have never been to one of PEMCo.’s main stage productions before, I will assure you that they are the closest you can get to a real Broadway production without paying a week’s salary for a ticket. “The Producers” is no exception. Different dance numbers feature grandmas with walkers, girls in dazzling gold sequins, prison inmates, and of course, Nazis. The sets are artfully designed. The costumes? Well, just remember what I said about the Gay Pride parade.Joe Augustinsky and Michael Eardley are strong in the lead roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom. Eardley is particularly skilled at portraying the neurotic, insecure side of Bloom’s character. But many of the best moments come from the colorful cast of supporting actors and actresses. Brian Davenport is outstanding as the flamboyant neo-Nazi Franz Liebkind, and Margie Janiczek is perfect for the role of Ulla, the tempting Swedish receptionist. Her first number is superbly sultry and will leave at least all the men in the audience begging for more.So if you’re looking for a great Valentine’s Day date idea or just something to do this weekend, check out “The Producers.” Tickets are available at the LaFortune box office, $6 for students, $8 general admission, and some tickets may be available at the door before the performances