Monday , July 28, 2014 - 12:00 AM
What happens when two producers pair the worst script they can find with the most incompetent director they can hire to create a surefire Broadway flop? The outcome is certainly unexpected.
“ ’The Producers’ is a hysterical musical comedy about show business. It has won the most Tony awards of any musical in history,” said director Rick Rea. “This is the first time it has been produced in a community theater in Ogden.”
Rea, of Ogden, became a fan of the show when he saw a touring production during his high school years. “I think it is the greatest musical comedy of all time. It set the standard for how funny and how big musical comedy could be,” Rea said.
He is pleased that the opportunity to direct the show has come his way. “When we opened the Ziegfeld Theater two years ago, we asked if there were any shows we could never do and we said ‘The Producers,’ because it is just too big to manage and too expensive,” Rea said.
Since then, his perspective has changed. “I saw it done at Hale Centre Theatre (in West Valley City) creatively, so it would work in a space that small. I realized the key is to sometimes reinvent things to keep it from looking like you are doing the job halfway,” Rea said
“If we take some of the great things about the original production and reinvent ways of telling the story, we can do it. We designed a set that allows us to take advantage of our space and our budget. It is a show that is a dream to be part of producing.”
The show is difficult to reproduce, in part, because, with a cast of 22, nearly every actor has 10 or more costumes. “There are also a dozen different locations. It requires a lot of technical prowess,” Rea said.
In addition, the choreography is challenging. “There is a high demand for the performers to learn some dance numbers that are really advanced. It asks a lot more of everyone who is involved in the show,” Rea said. Weber State University student Kacee Neff is the choreographer.
Rea was delighted to receive a phone call from Liam Burke, who recently moved to Ogden. Burke worked with the director and choreographer on the original Broadway production and the 2005 film. He agreed to work with Rea as a consultant.
Rea is also thrilled about the six gifted actors playing the leads, including a former Radio City Rockette – Talese Hunt of Sandy – who is cast as leading lady Ulla.
The story begins with Max, played by Cameron Kapetanov of Ogden, a producer once called “The King of Broadway” trying to recover from a recent flop that closed after just one performance.
“He used to be successful, but now everything he does is a failure. He is at the end of his rope. He has turned to being a sleazy kind of man just to make ends meet,” Kapetanov said.
Max meets with shy accountant Leo, who discovers a bookkeeping error. Max raised $100,000 when the show cost only $98,000 to produce. After Max convinces Leo to hide the mistake, Leo makes the offhand comment that a person could actually make more money on a flop than a hit. He states in a matter-of-fact tone, “You could have raised $1 million, put on your $100,000 flop and kept the rest.”
This gives Max an idea to raise $2 million and produce an intentional flop. Leo reluctantly agrees to be his co-conspirator and split the profits.
“Whatever he does and whatever he says, Max is never apologetic. He is always bold. I love playing this character because I am so free to do anything. Max knows Leo is innocent, but there is no care or thought when he ropes him in,” Kapetanov said.
Weber State University musical education student Daniel Pack, of Ogden, plays Leo, whom he describes as nervous and mousy. “Leo has been a dreamer his whole life. He has a lot of big ideas, but he has a hard time taking control of his own life.”
As an accountant, Leo has been pushed around. He is easily enticed by Max’s offer because he secretly harbors a dream to become a producer. “He definitely gets bolder throughout the show and starts to develop confidence,” Pack said.
Pack feels a connection to his character. “The idea of being nervous and a little awkward -- in some ways it comes naturally,” he said. But, the challenge is making Leo nervous with a big presence. “I have to keep the same energy as Max, who is a giant of a character,” he said.
Together, Max and Leo purchase a play sure to offend people of all races, creeds and religions; it’s called “Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden,” written by an ex-Nazi named Franz – played by B.J. Whimpey, of Farr West.
Franz intends the play to be a tribute to Hitler. “He is very dedicated to his project, although misguided by ideals that were instilled in him. He is passionate to the point that, as he sees it, no one can play the role of Hitler except himself,” Whimpey said.
Whimpey has been familiar with the show since the 2005 film came out. “I love the dry satirical humor. There is also some slapstick and a little something for everyone,” Whimpey said.
A terrible director, Roger De Bris, played by Quinn Kapetanov of Ogden, and his assistant, Carmen Ghia, played by Josh White, also of Ogden, are hired.
Max and Leo are intrigued when Swedish blond bombshell Ulla auditions, and they can’t help making her their leading lady.
Their plan seems to be set. Unfortunately for Max and Leo, when it comes to opening night, they have created something that is so atrocious that it’s good. “They do it so badly, it becomes brilliant,” Rea said.
Rea warns that the content is irreverent at best, with adult language, sexual humor and innuendos. “It has a naughty sense of humor, it is important for people to know that upfront,” he said.
He hopes people will set their sensitivities aside. “It uses things that shouldn’t work, but for some reason, it works. There are things that should be awful, but everything is so playful that you end up having a wonderful time.”
Sign up for e-mail news updates.