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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 10:24 GMT
Press reviews: The Producers
UK newspaper critics heap lavish praise on Mel Brooks' musical The Producers, which opened in London's West End on Tuesday.


Lee Evans and dancers in The Producers
Lee Evans' performance is praised
That arch-priest of political incorrectness, Mel Brooks, has transformed his celebrated musical into a musical comedy and as funny a one as I've seen.

With Lee Evans playing a gormless little Faust to Nathan Lane's unstoppably energetic Mephistopheles, the musical had me in stitches.

Don't go to Drury Lane if you can't conceive of Hitler as an object for hilarity or resist sideswipes at fat people, Jewish princesses or (a coloured cop) the "black Irish". Otherwise, do yourself a favour and go.

With Lane losing kilos in sweat, and Evans bashfully wincing and goofily playing the nerd, the acting is broader than I recall it being on Broadway.

But then this is a Broadway musical whose aim is simultaneously to celebrate and send up the Great White Way in all its opportunism, dodgyness and lunatic excess. Brooks and his director, Susan Stroman, triumphantly manage both.


Happily it offers exactly the same intoxicating, time-suspending and slightly guilty pleasure as it did in New York.

At its simplest, it puts the comedy back into musical comedy. After years of quasi-operatic musicals that have turned poverty and oppression into a showbiz spectacle, we are at last allowed to laugh.

Brooks is suggesting that we now live in a shock-proof culture in which even fascist decadence can be turned into a showbiz triumph. And who can say he is wrong?

The Producers has taken a long time to reach us. But it's a welcome guest and looks set for a durable stay.


To say that it unleashes an epidemic of bliss would be too mealy-mouthed. The Producers comes across as an insane love letter to old Broadway and to the classic shows and films putting on a show.

Nathan Lane is a roly-poly bundle of delicious disreputability...Evans is adorable both in repressed hysteric mode and in the goofy innocence with he takes to the unfamiliar world of theatrical magic.

The evening unfolds as a sublimely silly festival of awful gags and musical in-jokes.


From the opening number, the audience rides a tidal wave of pure pleasure and after three delirious hours one is left stunned by a combination of unstoppable laughter and sheer happiness.

This is pastiche raised to the level of art. It's a defiant raspberry blown in the face of political correctness.

What a relief it is to go to a musical and laugh again. It is a lesson Andrew Lloyd Webber needs to learn.

It is impossible to over praise Nathan Lane's performance. Lee Evans proves a terrific foil as his neurotic, gangly partner in crime.

This is a glorious night of musical comedy at its magnificent, spirit-lifting best.

West End goes wild for Producers
10 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Review: The Producers
10 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Getting The Producers to the West End
09 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Dreyfuss pulls out of Producers
19 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
Producers await Germans' reaction
02 Feb 04 |  Entertainment
Producers bound for film re-make
06 Jan 04 |  Entertainment

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