‘The Producers’ at Village Theatre charms, offends for laughs

May 15, 2012

Brian Earp (Leo Bloom), Richard Gray (Max Bialystock), Nick DeSantis (Roger De Bris) and Chris Ensweiler (Carmen Ghia) perform a scene in ‘The Producers.’ Photo by Jay Koh/Village Theatre

“The Producers” caricatures and offends in strokes as broad as the Brooklyn Bridge.

The musical is the ultimate equal-opportunity offender. “The Producers” aims and fires at Jews, gays, women, Nazis — yes, Nazis — and almost everyone else in a rollicking production onstage at Village Theatre.

Indeed, the questionable material, especially the can-they-do-that moments, is the most enjoyable part of “The Producers.”

The mega-musical runs until July 1 and closes the 2011-12 season at Village Theatre.

“The Producers” is a breathless tribute to Broadway and, often in the same breath, a knife-edged parody. The appeal is the cynicism and crassness in the absurdist romp. So what, then, if some songs seem almost forgettable? The numbers still act as a capable delivery device for a handful of funnyman Mel Brooks’ sharpest lines.

The musical is a smash imported to Issaquah 11 years after Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick tore up Broadway in the original run. The lackluster 2005 film adaptation introduced audiences farther afield to the unabashedly old-school show.

Read more

Springtime at Village Theatre brings ‘The Producers’

May 1, 2012

The blockbuster musical “The Producers” is poised to storm the Village Theatre stage soon.

The satire from legendary humorist Mel Brooks centers on the titular producers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, and a scheme to produce a surefire flop — a musical titled “Springtime for Hitler.”

“I just don’t think there’s a funnier musical out there,” actor Rich Gray, oily producer Bialystock in the upcoming production, said in a recent interview.

The mega-musical closes the 2011-12 season at Village Theatre. “The Producers” opens May 9.

“It’s this really funny, over-the-top, outrageous, offensive, tongue-in-cheek, farcical thing,” actor Brian Earp, timid Bloom in the show, said in a recent interview.

Read more

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ reopens old debates

June 28, 2011

“Jesus Christ Superstar” started raising eyebrows — and ire — before the initial run debuted on Broadway in 1971, and the production at Village Theatre in downtown Issaquah is no exception.

Aaron Finley (left), as Jesus, and Michael K. Lee, as Judas, star in Village Theatre’s modern-day interpretation of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The groundbreaking rock opera about Jesus Christ’s last days has attracted criticism from audience members since the show opened May 11.

“We’ve had some people that feel like it’s in some way sacrilegious because it’s not a traditional robes-and-sandals telling,” Village Theatre Executive Producer Robb Hunt said.

The playhouse is celebrated — and sometimes denounced — for bold choices, including a same-sex kiss in “The Wedding Banquet” in 2003 and male nudity — albeit, a snapshot — in “The Full Monty” late last year.

Read more

‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘The Producers’ round out upcoming Village Theatre season

March 2, 2011

Village Theatre dips into the Great American Songbook, re-imagines Broadway blockbusters and polishes original musicals for the Mainstage during the 2011-12 season.

Performers present a reading of the musical ‘It Shoulda Been You’ at the 2010 Festival of New Musicals. By Sam Freeman

For the fourth consecutive season, the downtown Issaquah playhouse plans to feature a pair of original musicals on the Mainstage — rarity for regional theaters.

The lineup includes the classic musicals “Annie Get Your Gun” and “The Producers” — plus the original musicals “Take Me America” and “It Shoulda Been You.” The lone play in the upcoming season is a Neil Simon chestnut, “The Odd Couple.”

The season kicks off in Issaquah just after Labor Day. The productions then head to the Everett Performing Arts Center after the local engagements conclude.

‘Take Me America’

Sept. 14 to Oct. 23

“Take Me America” last appeared on the Village Theatre stage as a reading at the 2009 Festival of New Musicals.

The rock musical presents tales from refugees struggling to gain political asylum in the United States — and of the immigration agents responsible for deciding the refugees’ fates. The immigration agents labor to find a balance between the refugees’ humanity and a difficult professional position.

Though the subject matter has significant heft, “Take Me America” intersperses comedy throughout the musical.

Read more