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The Producers’ from stage to screen

Kaitlyn Conway | Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What’s surer to succeed on Broadway than a complete flop of a show? That’s the idea that made Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” so popular in 1968 when the film first hit screens. From there, the show went on to become an actual Broadway hit in 2001 and made another appearance on the big screen in 2005. The hilarious story of the conning producers whose plan for a horrible show turns them into millionaires has kept audiences laughing, and will continue to do so in this weekend’s PEMCo. show.”The Producers” was Mel Brooks’ first work as writer and director, starting a long line of funfest comedies. The film starred Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock and Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom. Wilder would go on to star in several more Brooks films, such as “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” The film won an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay-Written Directly for the Screen and Gene Wilder was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in a Supporting Role.In 2001, “The Producers” debuted on Broadway as a musical. The film was adapted for the stage by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick made the roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom famous. The show strayed from its original material in a few ways, giving the characters of Ulla and Roger DeBris larger roles and eliminating the character of Lorenzo St. Dubois (LSD), who portrays Hitler in the original film version. The ending is also happier than the original film version. At the 2001 Tony Awards, the production won 12 Awards and had an additional three nominations. The show went on national tours and became immensely popular internationally.In 2005, the decision was made to take the musical to the silver screen again. The new film adaptation took heavily from the Broadway show, recasting Lane and Broderick in their roles as Bialystock and Bloom. The director of the original stage show, Susan Stroman, also directed this film version. Reception of the new version of the film was mixed. Many critics said that it retained too many of its stage characteristics. The acting and delivery of the lines seemed to have been barely toned down at all, making the transfer to film difficult.Since the debut of the musical, “The Producers” seems to have been made for the stage. PEMCo.’s performance is likely to continue in the same vein, and is sure to delight audiences this weekend. PEMCo. is sure to know where they went right with a show like “The Producers