REVIEW: Covedale’s ‘Producers’ a Comic Hit

Brooks' lyrics are witty, profound, sarcastic but also can be sophomoric, ribald and raunchy rife with double-entendres and innuendoes.

By Doug Iden

What happens when two Broadway producers deliberately create a show designed to be a flop for financial gain but then it then becomes a roaring success?  The hilarious result is answered in The Producers currently running at the Covedale Theater.


Originally conceived and written as a movie by Mel Brooks, the musical version enhances the zany and savagely satirical plot with music, dancing, and manic mayhem. The Broadway show won a record twelve Tonys including Best Musical and Best Score and Book by Brooks.

Cast of The Producers at Covedale
Cast of The Producers at Covedale


Down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock (played brilliantly by Jeff Richardson) has just created another terrible play when his accountant Leo Bloom (Douglas Berlon) hatches a scheme to defraud investors by producing a flop.  Max and Leo then proceed to secure the worst play ever written (Springtime for Hitler by Franz played by Timothy Andrew Leonard), hire the worst director (Roger DeBris portrayed by Ryan Poole) and a cast of misfits.  Leo wants to divorce himself from his humdrum job and become a producer while Max just wants to survive.  Max courts his investors in “Little Old Lady Land” while Leo “cooks” the financial books.  

The playwright Franz is a closet N*zi played with enthusiastic jingoism by Leonard who makes Leo and Max swear allegiance to the N*zi party.  The producers must cajole DeBris (pun intended) to direct the play encouraged by his paramour assistant Carmen Ghia (played with flamboyant elan by Adam Jones).  During casting, a Swedish actress Ulla (Katie McCarthy) enchants Leo and she becomes a cast member but also a secretary/receptionist and potential lover of Leo.  But, alas, the play is a resounding success and Max goes to prison and Ulla and Leo escape to Rio.

Cast of the Producers at Covedale
Cast of the Producers at Covedale


Mostly, this is a scathing indictment of N*zi Germany with Brooks ridiculing Hitler and his cronies.   But it also is an enunciation of greedy, rapacious Broadway producers specifically and Big Business in general.  He also pokes fun at many gays in the theatrical community.  Brooks’ lyrics are witty, profound, sarcastic but also can be sophomoric, ribald and raunchy rife with double-entendres and innuendoes.


This show has a lot of music including many big production numbers highlighted by the outrageously absurd “Springtime for Hitler” from the original movie.  The opening number is “The King of Broadway” outlining Max’s many failures and then “We Can Do It” (Max and Leo) and “I Wanna be a Producer” (Leo) both of which are reprised several times.  “Keep it Gay” (with Roger. Carmen and contingent) and “Along Came Bialy” close out the first act.  Ulla (McCarthy) voices her philosophy with “When You’ve Got It, Flaunt it” and sings the delightful duet “That Face” with Leo.  A major highlight is Max’s version of “Betrayed” in which he excoriates Leo for deserting him while encapsulating the entire plot with snippets of the songs.  Max and Leo realize their friendship with “’Til Him” and the show ends with “Prisoners of Love”.  

Cast of The Producers at Covedale
Cast of The Producers at Covedale

This is a star vehicle with Zero Mostel playing Max in the movie and Tony winning Nathan Lane as Max in the Broadway show so any actor is the heart of the show and Richardson nails the part with his personality, acting and singing.  Berlon is good as Leo and McCarthy, Leonard, Poole, and Jones are expert in their respective parts.  Christopher Wells and Tre Taylor III play multiple parts.  The ensemble is excellent both singing and dancing.


Director Tim Perrino has crafted a masterful play with an extraordinary cast.  Music Director Greg Dastillung accompaniments are good although occasionally a bit too loud.  Brett Bowling’s set design is appropriate with many illusions to Broadway and many props including accountant’s desks, walkers for the “little old ladies”, prison bars and moving birds in a cage.  The costumes by Beth Bolling-Joos are many and varied, including formal wear, police uniforms, sexy chorus girl outfits, dresses and wigs for the old ladies, N*zi uniforms including swastikas, gay stereotypes and Roger’s dress which resembles the Chrysler Building.  Additionally, there is headgear resembling brats, pretzels, and beer.  Some unique features by Technical Director Denny Reed include rear screen projections of the faces of Ulla and Leo during the “That Face” number and many puns on other Broadway shows.

Choreographer Cassidy Steele has imprinted her style onto the Covedale productions.  In the last several years, the choreography has been enhanced immeasurably including dance variety, difficulty, inventiveness, and skill.  The dancers (and singers) in this show are excellent.  Cassidy has borrowed some routines from original choreographer Susan Stroman including the iconic old lady walkers in the “Along Came Bialy” number but she has added her own touches with ballet and tap routines.


It is a challenge to do this show well and this production has succeeded.  From Richardson’s portrayal of Max, to the other actors, to the singers and dancers augmented by technical features, this show is superb. 

So, grab your tickets, your tap shoes (and maybe a walker) and proceed to the Covedale Theater to see The Producers running through April 7. Click HERE for tickets.

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