Review: It's a Mel Brooks world at Gulfport Little Theater

COURTESY GULFPORT LITTLE THEATRE'The Producers' cast members include David Reeves, left, Jay Lynn, Kimberly Hess, Jim Rux and Matt Mavar.
COURTESY GULFPORT LITTLE THEATRE'The Producers' cast members include David Reeves, left, Jay Lynn, Kimberly Hess, Jim Rux and Matt Mavar.

Gulfport Little Theatre's presentation of the Mel Brooks musical "The Producers" goes into its second weekend Friday through Sunday.

The high-energy and dedicated local cast gives audiences a great production of the smash hit Broadway musical that won 12 Tony Awards from 2001-07.

Noted, it's a production that draws its humor from sexual content, openly gay caricatures and a comedic mocking of Hitler's Nazi regime.

Gulfport Little Theatre managing director Cal Walters said the entertainment value of "The Producers" easily overrides any lines the production may cross.

"There are many who have said that Mel Brooks' comedies are sort of 'Equal Opportunity Offenders,' that nobody goes out unscathed," Walters said. "Much of it is tongue-in-cheek and when you look at why Mel Brooks actually put these together, it's just sort of common sense comedy, things throughout the ages that he pulls together.

Brooks' zany and take-no-prisoners style of writing is vintage in "The Producers." Max Bialystock (played by Jay Lynn) is a has-been and struggling obnoxious and greedy musical producer, who becomes desperate in figuring out how to return to his days of glory. Part of his solution comes when a new accountant and wanna-be producer Leo Bloom (Jim Rux) observes a small discrepancy in Bialystock's books and inadvertently comments about how a producer can make more money with a flop production than with a hit.

Bialystock lures the gullible and insecure Bloom to put together such a scheme as partners. They get the rights to a horrible script about a gay Adolph Hitler, written by former Nazi soldier and still Hitler fanatical Franz Liebkind (Max Mavar). They then approach equally terrible play director Roger "Keep It Gay" DeBris (David Reeves), along with his all-gay production crew and convinces DeBris to direct the production.

Meanwhile, Bialystock raises the money through his romances with a stable of rich sex-craved older women, all of whom return the favor with big checks. Bialystock and Bloom's plot is to illegally oversell shares for the production, see the musical stage play flop on the first night, abscond with the money and high-tail it out of the country.

It's the perfect formula for the disaster production they want, but just one little thing goes wrong. Or, as they sing in the play, "Where Did We Go Right?"

Brooks co-wrote and directed "The Producers" as a 1968 film that starred Zero Mostel and helped launched the career of Gene Wilder. The hit Broadway play version starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, both of whom reprised their roles for the 2005 film remake, co-starring with Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell.

The local cast does a solid job of capturing the comedic tone and essence for which Brooks has been known through his classic satire films such as "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," "Spaceballs," "High Anxiety" and "History of the World Part One." Scenes in the musical such as "I Wanna Be a Producer" and "Springtime for Hitler" drew very good audience response.

Gulfport Little Theatre is located on 26th Street and 13th Avenue in Gulfport. Showtime is 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call the box office at 864-7983 or visit www.gulfportlittletheatre.org. Adults, $15; seniors and military, $12; students and children, $10; Because of the strong adult content and language, parental discretion is advised.

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