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The Producers - Shenfield Operatic Society, Queens Theatre, Hornchurch

The Producers is a musical based on the film by Mel Brooks with much of the Lyrics and book written by Brooks and with a film version starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

The show is a humorous take on the theatrical profession.

Taking on the roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom respectively were Martin Harris and Jamie Fudge. These are big shoes to fill from Lane and Broderick, so both of these are demanding roles and while the role of Max was in safe hands with Martin, I felt it lacked much of the dynamism and energy the role requires to play on an equal level with many of the other strong principle leads around him. Jamie Fudge was totally submerged in the role of timid, shy and mild-mannered accountant who dreams of being a Broadway producer. His breakdown in the first scene with his blue blankie was a well-crafted piece of acting.

Jon Keeler as Franz Liebkind also gave such a strong performance as the Hitler loving, pigeon fancier and writer of Springtime for Hitler. He squeezed every ounce of comedy out of this role from his goose stepping to his superb delivery of “Have you ever Heard the German Band’.

Another scene stealer was Simon Bristoe as Roger De Bris. Vocally he was easily strongest performer on stage. In addition, I have seen Simon in a number of varying roles recently and like a chameleon he adapts and delivers such strong characterisations. His performances are of a professional level and for me he certainly came into his own as the very gay Hitler both with his dancing/body language and every aspect of his performance. Alongside him as Carmen, Alli Smith also gave a fantastic caricature performance as the very camp Common Law assistant of Roger.

Kelly Warren as Ulla was a very sexy, Swedish, starlet and had great stage presence throughout.

There were various other cameo roles who also delivered strong performances. I rarely mention ensemble individuals but I feel compelled to mention Kerry Cooke who shone whether she was in the back row, the front role or in a cameo and because she gave 100% every time she was on stage and I was drawn to watch her.

The set was a great backdrop, with some slick scene changes despite the size of the set and the costumes were all a perfect addition to the production so congratulations to the wardrobe department. The sound was also good, but I did struggle with the diction on some of the chorus numbers which was a shame – there are some great comedic lyrics on some of these numbers and I felt they were lost as we couldn’t actually hear them. This was a strong overall production with lots of laughs and great moments.

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