Big cast: All singing all dancing cast of The Producers. *Photos by Michael Swain
Big cast: All singing all dancing cast of The Producers. *Photos by Michael Swain
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21: Bermuda is to host one of the most elaborate shows staged on the island for years — Gilbert and Sullivan’s version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers.

The all singing, all dancing show, directed by international director Jennifer Sawyer includes a lavish set designed by Cleo Pettitt, extravagant dance routines by In Motion School of Dance and a cast of 35.

Larger than life, yet small in stature actor Phillip Jones tells us he is looking forward to starring in this Mel Brooks classic as he grew up in awe of the American film director.

We last saw Jones on stage prancing around in a dress as an ugly sister in the Christmas panto Cinderella and now we can see him as a neurotic accountant with serious self-esteem issues.

Hysterical

“I grew up on Mel Brooks — Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles… His sense of humour is the sense of humour I had when I was growing up. It’s hysterical.” Jones told the Bermuda Sun.

Mel Brooks originally made the film The Producers in 1968. Then, along with Thomas Meehan, he adapted it into a musical which opened on Broadway in 2001. The film was remade in 2005 starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and Uma Thurman.

The story tells of Max Bialystock (Alexander Rosati), a once revered Broadway producer whose every show now turns out to be a complete flop. He meets with accountant Leo Bloom (Jones) who comes up with a get-rich-quick solution that will make them both enough money to jet off to Rio.

He figures out that if you raise more money than you need for a sure fire flop, it will close on the opening night and you can pocket the surplus. So they hatch a scheme to put on the most terrible musical, that glorifies the Nazi era and in particular Adolf ‘Elizabeth’ Hitler.

A highlight of the show is the repulsive show song Springtime for Hitler written by escaped Nazi Franz Liebken (Alan Brooks). They also enlist the overly flamboyant Roger DeBris (Gavin Wilson) to direct the show.

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Jones has both acted and directed during the 20 years he has been living on the island.

He describes the progress he is making with his character: “At first Leo is too nervous about the whole thing then he gets swept up into the life of showbiz and loves it.

“I played Mr Cellophane in Chicago here and it reminds me of him a little bit. He’s someone who is always taken advantage of but Leo changes in this one — he starts out very timid but it’s a life changing time for him. You get an arch to the character which is fascinating.

“It’s great working alongside Alex (his character) Max’s role is all energy and bluster and it’s the perfect role for him.

“My love interest is Ulla played by Lizzy Hadler. I’ve known her for years and she is a ‘do anything girl’ she is fabulous.”

The show is characterised by over the top accents, caricatures of Nazis and homosexuals as well as an array of show business in-jokes.

Jones adds: “The whole subject matter with Springtime for Hitler — it is just too funny,” he laughs.

“I think the film was a bit too close to WII — it was only 25 years earlier that this happened, but it worked so well on Broadway. I think it’s because it was one generation removed and Nazis were funny because no one really knew any.

“This show is a musical within a musical and it’s got to be over the top in a slightly over the top musical.

“And lot of the numbers remind you of other musicals but you can’t really put your finger on why — it’s really clever. It’s almost like a spoof on Broadway itself.”

A number of professionals from overseas have been enlisted for this production including director Jennifer Sawyer. She has many credits to her name including a number of West End musicals.

Gavin Wilson is also a scoop — he is one Bermuda’s most respected actors and is known for his one man show portraying Mark Twain.

Where: City Hall Theatre
When: October 4 to October 13. Matinee on October 7 at 3pm. No perfomance on October 8.
Time: 8pm
Tickets: $55 incudes a complimentary reception in the foyer following opening night performance.  Available from ptix.bm or at gands.bm. Box office is open 1 hour before each show.