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State College Community Theatre to Stage 'The Producers'

by and on June 22, 2013 1:20 PM

Irony takes center stage at the State Theatre when the State College Community Theatre presents the Mel Brooks comedy “The Producers.”

Under the direction of Jason Poorman, the cast will take the audience along for the ride when has-been Broadway director Max Bialystock, played by Ken Wozetek, hatches a plan to bilk investors out of two million dollars.

“Max will say anything to get what he wants,” Wozetek observes.

And Max wants to “find the worst play ever written…hire the worst director in town…raise two million dollars…hire the worst actors in New York…open on Broadway…close on Broadway, take our two million and go to Rio.”

Max’s accountant, Leo (James McCready), has his doubts about the plan, but eventually goes along with it. “Leo’s a nervous wreck,” says McCready, “He’s shy and prone to hysterics.”

So the wheeling-dealing Max and his wuss of an accountant begin their search for the ultimate Broadway flop. They discover a suitably-wretched musical called “Springtime for Hitler,” written by ex-Nazi, Franz Liebkind (Steve Travis).

Next they need a lousy director. Flamingly gay Roger De Bris (Tom McClary) fits the bill nicely. But he insists they re-write the second act so that the Germans win the war. One thing leads to another and Roger ends up playing the title role.

Rounding out the principal roles, Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yansen Tallen Hallen Svaden Swanson (Katie Kensinger), a Swedish bombshell, agrees to work for them as “secretary-slash-receptionist.” Eventually, following all sorts of shenanigans, mishaps and general chaos, Ulla and Leo fall in love.

“It would be easy to play her as a dumb blonde,” Kensinger remarks, “but I try to keep her authentic.”

Meanwhile, Max and Leo have a problem. Their terrible, awful, no-good, really bad show turns into a smash hit. And, of course, everything goes downhill from there.

The authorities confiscate the cooked accounting ledgers, Max goes to jail and Leo escapes to Rio with Ulla. Eventually, after plenty of song-and-dance along with a good many off-color jokes, things turn out okay for the wayward director, his accountant and Ulla.

“This is as fun as theatre can get,” according to Poorman.

Wozetek adds that the Yiddish humor makes the show particularly comical. “Mel Brooks takes every personality type and puts it in the show,” he says, “You see a whole spectrum of caricatures and stereotypes. It’s really over the top.”

Mel Brooks himself once said that The Producers “has something to offend everyone.”

The elderly, gays, Jews and women all have satire thrown at them in this show. From the flamboyant Hitler, to the elderly women tap-dancing with their walkers, no one escapes the jokes.

Poorman has an innate sense of timing, which works great with all the jokes, gestures and subtleties his cast needs to master to pull off this show. SCCT presents some serious entertainment here.

The show opens on June 21, and runs two consecutive weekends, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2. Tickets are $20 for adults and $16 for seniors, students and youth.

Parents are reminded that the "Producers" is an R-rated production. 

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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