By Mary Boyle
If you're above a certain age, you may recall the film The Producers, written and directed in 1967 by Mel Brooks, and starring Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock, a has-been Broadway Producer, and Milwaukee native Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom, an accountant who's always wanted to be a Broadway producer. While the film put Gene Wilder on the map, and started a series of collaborations with Mel Brooks, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, the story made a much bigger splash when it made its way to Broadway in 2001, starring Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom. Now, you can see The Producers for yourself, in all its offensive, yet Tony award-winning, glory at Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove.
Fans of Mel Brooks know that there isn't a subject too taboo for him to make fun of, and this show is an equal opportunity offender. Max Bialystock (Robert A. Zimmerman) was once the King of Broadway, but now he's penniless after a long series of flops. When he overhears his bumbling, nervous accountant, Leo Bloom (Zach Zembrowski) speculate that, with a bit of creative math, a failed Broadway show could earn far more money than a successful one, the two embark on a scheme to produce the biggest Broadway flop in history; a show so offensive, it can't possibly be a hit, and they can't possibly get in trouble...except the show, "Springtime for Hitler," somehow manages to be a hit!
Directed by Tommy Lueck, The Producers is shockingly good (grown-up) fun. Robert A. Zimmerman sounds remarkably like Nathan Lane, and Zach Zembrowski is wonderful as Leo Bloom. Molly Morrow is Ulla, the sexy Swedish secretary/performer, and Eric Safdieh-Nelson is Roger DeBris, the worst Director in New York who, along with his partner, Carmen Ghia, played by Andrew Kelly, bring a whole lot of fabulous to the show, as well as the show within the show. The show-stealer, though, is Steven Sizer, who recently appeared as a prince in Into the Woods at Sunset, and now returns to the Sunset stage as Franz Liebkind, the Nazi sympathizer who penned the musical.
Sunset Playhouse is a great little community theater, with easy parking and not a bad seat in the house, combined with excellent productions for a bargain price, right in the heart of Elm Grove. If a Broadway show is on your bucket list, this is the perfect place to check it off. See it while you can!
The Producers runs through August 5th at Sunset Playhouse, located at 800 Elm Grove Road in Elm Grove, WI. Tickets can be purchased by calling (414) 782-4430, or online at www.sunsetplayhouse.com.
About Sunset Playhouse
Over the past 60 years, Sunset has benefitted from the leadership of Ian Dobbie, Alan Furlan, Michael Spicer, Thomas Somerville, Michael Duncan, Mark Salentine, Jonathan West, Diana Alioto, and our current Artistic Director, Nancy Visintainer-Armstrong. The theater’s staff consists of an Education Director, Technical Director, Business Manager/Volunteer Coordinator, Administrative Assistant, Box Office Manager, Box Office Associates, and Theater Technicians. In addition, Sunset benefits from a large pool of talented and dedicated volunteers who work in conjunction with these professionals and are essential to the on-going success of the Playhouse. Sunset is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership.
Sunset produces eight Furlan Auditorium Productions per season consisting of comedies, mysteries, musicals, and dramas. The Playhouse is also home to three professional series–Musical MainStage Concert Series, with six concerts each season, a six-show cabaret series titled SideNotes Cabaret Series, and a three-show children’s series called Bug in a Rug.