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The Producers: Yet another Hitler springtime



CPCC Summer Theatre is finishing its Patron's Choice Season with a lovable, huggable, home-cooked helping of Mel Brooks' The Producers. Drina Keen's musical direction sizzles without becoming obtrusive, Robert Croghan's scenic design gives us a boffo Broadway, and Ron Chisholm's choreography is witty, glitzy, and tap-tap-tap crazy.

There are gems among the performances that equal the lavish touring production that hit Ovens Auditorium back in 2004. Adam Morse is spectacular as Franz Liebkind, the inept goose-stepping, pigeon-loving perpetrator of Springtime for Hitler. Steve Bryan dominates as diva stage director Roger De Bris, whether modeling Croghan's masterful Chrysler Building costume or understudying Hitler: His show-stopping rendition of Springtime's title tune hilariously mixes elements of Judy Garland, Ethel Merman and Reggie Van Gleason III.

Topmost among the jaw-dropping surprises is Matt Keffer's portrayal of rogue producer Max Bialystock's erstwhile partner, Leo Bloom. Starting out a little too broadly as the diffident CPA, Keffer is terrific when Bloom's neuroses catch up with Keffer's excesses. He looks like Alan Ruck, who did the tour, but he's funnier, and if the arc of Bloom's character isn't as elegant as Matthew Broderick's in the original Broadway version, there's no doubt he sings better, the one voice in the cast strong enough to triumph over the dropouts that still plague Halton Theater's sound system.

Unfortunately, the soft spot in this production is at the center. When director Tom Hollis chose Dana Alderman to portray the pathologically crass Bialystock, he seized upon Alderman's chunky, Nathan Lane body type instead of remembering that Alderman is more ideally cast as Amos Hart ("Mr. Cellophane") in Chicago and the title role of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The self-dramatization when Alderman sings "I used to be the King" has no faux tragedy, and when he tells Bloom "You can do it!" there's no zestful fraud at the core. He's incurably cuddly.

Courtney Markowitz is a luscious, leggy Ulla, the ultimate adornment of a producer's couch, and Jon Parker Douglas is nearly swishy enough as De Bris crony Carmen Ghia. Sean Watkins pops up in two bravura cameos, a Blind Violinist and the Brownshirt Tenor.

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