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The Producers (Guildford, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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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 of salt.


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