With high flying grannies, dancing Nazis and a Swedish bombshell,
the Guildford School of Acting’s final-year students' performance of The
Producers is a bright Broadway light in a sea of theatrical blacks
and jazz shoes. The show follows the antics of Broadway producer Max Bailystock
and his nervous accountant Leo Bloom who work out that they can make more money
from producing a flop show than a hit, only to inadvertently create a success.
As Max Bailystock, Hans Rye drives the musical forward
with his boundless energy. Although his broad New York accent can be slightly
grating at time, his rendition of "Betrayed" is undoubtedly
one of the highlights of the show.
Rob Houchen makes a an excellent everyman as Bialystock’s
partner in crime Leo Bloom, playing the role with a naivety and sweetness that
in a lesser actor could have been overshadowed by Hans Rye’s powerhouse
performance. When Houchen and Britany Field (as Ulla) trip the light
fantastic during "That face", the audience can see an old-style
Hollywood romance unfurling between dance steps.
Faced with the challenge of playing the musical-writing, pigeon-fancying Nazi Franz Liebkind, Karl Fraczek does an admirable job and has a beautiful
vocal timbre, although at times his performance does miss the mark.
Similarly, Criag Golding plays the flambouyant director Roger De Bris like a
pussycat without the claws, but when the curtain rises on Spring Time
for Hitler he is sublime and even manages to upstage the Nazi
showgirls. Paired with Rob Eyles as De Bris’ catty lover, the pair flit and
flirt their way through the show with impeccable comic timing.
The whole company seem completely at ease with the constantly
moving set and Nikolai Foster’s direction has the audience’s eyes dancing around
the stage to keep up with a flurry of costume changes, sequins and high kicks. There are
some moments in the action when the audience are reminded that they are
watching students, but on the whole these are minimal and forgettable.
If you are looking for a jolly good show about the bright lights of Broadway with a young talented
cast, then you would be hard pushed to find
a better show than The Producers – but watch it with a pinch