Mel Brooks' comedic masterpiece "The Producers" takes the stage in August at North Central College, featuring some 80 community actors. The story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be a success.
Six performances will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6, 7, 13 and 14 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 8 and 15 in Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville. Tickets are $15/adults and $10/students and senior citizens; call the North Central College Box Office at 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit www.northcentralcollege.edu/showtix. The show's humor will appeal to a wide range of audiences; however, due to some strong language and adult situations, the show is not recommended for younger audience members.
The 1968 film of the same name earned Brooks an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. With its adaptation into a Broadway musical in 2001, "The Producers" went on to win a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Director Brian Lynch says, "I have always been a huge fan of Mel Brooks. I still have fond memories of practically falling out of my seat in a movie theater outside Warsaw, Indiana, watching the irreverent humor of this gifted man."
The humor of the show is just one of the aspects contributing to its ongoing success. Lynch says, "Mel Brooks is an equal opportunity insult artist. If we can't laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? And isn't it easier to step back occasionally and not take everything so seriously?"
Lynch, a veteran director at the College, believes strongly in allowing his actors artistic freedom. He says, "A good director knows when to get out of the way and let the actors do what they were cast for. This is really the case with this show; we have many gifted comedians. I feel like I have, in many cases, given them the outline and then let them run with it. Comedy takes a great deal more patience than drama, but the rewards are amazing when the laugh comes."
Although Lynch provided much of the choreography, the show remains close to the concept of original director and choreographer, Susan Stroman. The production will feature musical direction by Jonathon Lynch.
Photo: The conniving producers played by Chris Oechsel (Max Bialystock) and Garrett Lutz (Leo Bloom)
The cast for "The Producers" includes (part: name, hometown):
An additional 40 performers are part of the ensemble; some principal parts are double cast.
Max Bialystock: Chris Oechsel of Naperville, Keith Carlson of Naperville
Leo Bloom: Garrett Lutz of Aurora, Curtis Stetler of Lemont
Franz Liebkind: Ken Kaden of Naperville
Roger DeBris: Dave Musselman of Woodridge, Sean Hanson of Omaha, Neb.
Carmen Ghia: Adrion Rivera of Chicago, Jordan DeLeon of Naperville
Ulla Inga Hansen Benson: Erin Oechsel of Naperville, Alyssa Digges of Urbana
Mr. Marks, Churchill: Roger Hendrickson of Naperville
Jack: Tim Vogel of Naperville
Donald: Anthony Garvert of Naperville
Jason, Ticket Taker, O' Houllihan: Spencer Diedrich of Glen Ellyn
Gunter, O'Rourke: Andy Smelzer of Plainfield
Bryan: Brett Bush of Clarendon Hills
Kevin: Sal Alatriste of Chicago
Scott: Chris Oechsel of Naperville
Shirley: Grace Heimerl of Naperville
Stalin, Sergeant: Dennis Ortman of Woodridge
FDR: Stuart Vance
Storm Trooper: Matthias Austin
Judge: Stan Austin
Usherettes: Alex Oechsel of Naperville, Molly Durava of Naperville
"Producers" girls: Kathryn Lepine of Naperville, Heidi Buyck of Woodridge, Chelsea Ward of Naperville, Kathy Musselman of Woodridge, Victoria Newuis of Naperville, Grace Etzkorn of Lisle
Hold Me-Touch Me: Jill Morrow of Warrenville
Featured Old Ladies: Nadia Tancredi of Naperville, Kim Merrick of Aurora
O' Reilly, Bailiff, Prison Trustee: Josh Brown of Winfield
Workman, Guard: Ryan Cap of Naperville
Foreman of the Jury: Crissy Tancredi of Naperville
This summer production is one of many ongoing programs hosted at North Central College to enrich and broaden the academic and cultural outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of North Central's new 2010-2011 fine and performing arts season, art exhibits, lectures and other musical and theatrical productions, visit www.northcentralcollege.edu/show or call the box office at 630-637-SHOW (7469).