'The Producers' a hilarious hit

Thursday , August 07, 2014 - 4:48 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

The Ziegfeld Theater does pretty much everything right in its production of “The Producers,” the Mel Brooks’ musical about a Broadway show designed to do everything wrong.

The casting, acting, choreography, costumes and comic timing were all spot on last Friday, on the show’s opening night. And the few opening night mishaps that occurred — including a fallen set piece, a chair that threatened to dump its occupant, and prop scripts that stuck together — drew comic responses from the actors involved, which only added to audience’s enjoyment.

Actor Cameron Kapetanov, also a gifted improv comic, costarred as Max Bialystock, the bombastic Broadway producer in search of a hit. Daniel Peck costarred as Leo Bloom, a nebbish accountant who always dreamed of producing, and informed Max that Broadway flops could be earn their producers a profit as tax write-offs, and who then became Max’s reluctant partner in the scam.

Add to that an assortment of outlandish characters, every one of whom was capable of stealing the show. B.J. Whimpey played Franz Liebkind, the Nazi playwright who came up with a comically offensive script. Quinn Kapetanov and Josh White played the show within a show’s over-the-top director and his further-over-the top assistant, a gay couple surrounded by a stable of flamboyant boy toys.

And Talese Hunt played Ulla, the blonde bombshell Swedish secretary who wasn’t hired for her typing skills.

Each character could have starred in his or her own show, but combined, they added larger-than-life layers of absurdity to this fast moving, broad-yet-smart comedy.

It’s hard to imagine a Broadway cast that could have filled their theater more fully, and engaged their audience more completely. The Ziegfeld Theater provides an intimate space that draws the audience deep into the action.

This show left most audience members doubled over with laughter, with many people dabbing at the gleeful tears streaming down their cheeks.

“It’s very funny,” said audience member Garilyn Nelson, 46, West Haven. “I love the enthusiasm of the cast. They’ve done a professional job, staying in character no matter what. I hadn’t seen the show. I was expecting something more risque, but it’s really cute.”

The theater suggests audience members be 18 and older, or 12 and older at parents’ discretion. The show features a few swear words, multiple middle fingers gestures, references to bedding little old ladies as a fundraising strategy, and other sexual innuendos.

“It’s really funny and only a little bit offensive, but that’s on purpose,” said Victoria Snow, 18, visiting from Evanston, Wyo. “I liked the ‘When You Got It, Flaunt It’ song Ulla sang. I saw this on a cruise ship, and it made my mom so mad. Now I like the show even better.”

Clint Christensen, 24, of Roy, said he’s a Ziegfeld regular.

“I come here quite often,” he said. “The main guy (Cameron Kapetanov) played Hagrid in a Harry Potter show. The chair breaking and the wigs slipping off only added to it. I think this is great.”

Ogden resident Tim White, 48, has starred in several Ziegfeld shows, and played Man in Chair in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” But on opening night, he was there to support his son, actor Josh White.

“I saw the original movie and loved it, but I didn’t like the remake,” the elder White said. “This version is so much fun. I loved the actor (B.J. Whimpey) who played Franz. He is so much better as Franz than the actors who played the character in either movie. There are such talented kids here at the Ziegfeld.”

White said he was not even mildly offended by the show’s comedy, but that some people might be.

“I would say it’s a PG-13,” he said. “I loved it, but if you’re easily offended, wait and come see ‘Shrek’ here instead.”

“The Producers” plays at 7:30 Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 6, with 2 p.m. matinees on Aug. 30 and Sept. 6. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and for students with I.D, $12 for 12 and younger. For tickets, visit www.theziegfeldtheater.com.

“Shrek” opens Oct. 3, after the September run of Disney/Lucasfilm parody “May the Mouse Be With you.” The Ziegfeld Theater is at 3934 Washington Blvd., South Ogden.

Contact Nancy Van Valkenburg at 801-625-4275 or nvan@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @SE_NancyVanV; on Facebook at facebook.com/SENancyVanV.

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