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Review: The Producers

The Producers

By Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Playlovers. Directed by Peter Clark. Hackett Hall, Floreat, WA. June 28-July 20, 2013

The Producers at Playlovers is one of the most outstanding community theatre productions of the year to date.

Peter Clark’s direction is tight and slick. David Hardie’s Musical Direction is perhaps his best to date. Jessica Russell has created clever choreography that is nicely executed.

The set, designed by Wayne Herring, is stunning. Designed over two levels, it is bright and effective with some clever surprises and direction has used the set to its best advantage. Set changes are so slick that you could be fooled into believing that they are using travellers.

This is a show that uses costume designer Terry McAuley’s talents to the full. Featuring more ostrich feathers than the African continent, the costumes, especially for the showgirls and the ‘show within the show’ production numbers, are fun, beautifully created and exciting.

Alex McLennan and David Gregory expertly play central characters Max and Leo. Working brilliantly together, Alex’s Max was brash, loud and funny, while David Gregory’s Aspergerish Leo, provided an excellent foil. Musically they sounded wonderful.

Seventeen-year-old Samantha Gaunt, in her first leading role, was an ideal choice as Ulla. Leggy, blonde, sexy yet naïve, she lit up the stage.

Another newcomer, Cameron Butler, impressed in the flamboyant role of Carmen, offsider to campy director Roger, well played by John Taylor.

Rounding out the principal cast was Ted Simpson as eccentric Nazi sympathizer Franz. An obvious audience favourite, he delivered a delightful, beautifully measured performance, especially when interacting with his beautifully constructed pigeons.

The gentlemen of the ensemble were particularly strong, with every member shining in cameo appearances. The women, while not as strong vocally as the men, moved beautifully and created lovely characters. Particularly memorable were Clare Thomson and Elise Giaimo’s usherettes who were vocally striking and personable.

A sixteen-piece music ensemble played well and sound was nicely balanced in this notoriously tricky venue.

John Woolrych’s lighting was innovative, appropriate and expertly managed.

Very much a highlight of the theatre year, while not perfect, my money is on this show to do very well at the 2013 Robert Finley Awards.

Kimberley Shaw
From Stage Whispers – 
Photography by Hannah Weddell