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Theater Review: “The Producers”

“The Producers” plays through June 29, 2019 at Moonlight Amphitheatre, Brengle Terrace Park, 1250 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista.
Photo credit:
Ken Jacques

Oh, those Broadway producers, always scrounging for a buck and looking for the hit that will make them a killing.

Mel Brooks decided to skewer that whole notion in his 1967 film “The Producers,” in which Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder went to town (and made a mint doing it).

In 2001, Brooks and Thomas Meehan adapted the film for the stage.

It’s the same plot: schlock producer Max Bialystock and his timid accountant Leo Bloom conspire in a get-rich-quick scheme to intentionally produce the biggest flop in Broadway history and abscond to Rio with the contributions of lonely little old ladies who were talked into backing the show.

When they find a tasteless script called “Springtime For Hitler,” a “gay romp” by a lunatic former Nazi named Franz Liebkind (Luke H. Jacobs), they know they’ve found their show. To ensure its failure, they hire impossibly bad gay director Roger DeBris (Josh Adamson).

Yes, they’re ethical degenerates, and so is this show, which insults almost everybody – for starters, gays, lonely old ladies, the theater community and oh, yes, Nazis – in a song-and-dance extravaganza that by now is showing its age, but still pulls in audiences.

Vista’s Moonlight Stage Productions gives us a wow of a visual show, using the touring company’s sets and costumes. Karl Walden is to be congratulated for recreating the clever original choreography. Lyndon Pugeda and his fine 19 musicians in the pit orchestra deserve mention as well.

Larry Raben both directs and stars as Leo Bloom, a role he previously played on Broadway and in Las Vegas. He knows what he’s doing and his Leo’s change from timid to tiger is fun to watch.

Jamie Torcellini twists the show even more with his Max. Usually played by a big man, the comparatively diminutive Torcellini – complete in an outrageous wig – inspires giggles just with his looks.

This is a big show, sporting 18 singer/dancers with named roles and a half dozen in the ensemble. It’s also loud, splashy and – did I mention? – tasteless. It’s worn out its welcome for me, but that was clearly not the case for the opening-night audience.

If you’re in the mood for over-the-top jokes and a splashy production, give “The Producers” a whirl. But leave the kids at home.

The details

“The Producers” plays through June 29, 2019 at Moonlight Amphitheatre, Brengle Terrace Park, 1250 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista.

Wednesday through Sunday at 8 pm. 

Tickets: (760) 724-2110 or moonlightstage.com