Production a surefire Hitler

Jason Manford as Leo Bloom in The Producers

Jason Manford as Leo Bloom in The Producers

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Mel Brooks’ classic comedy has long been a hit musical, and NICOLA ADAMS reports that the latest production remains ‘a camp extravaganza’

You know something special is afoot when a theatre audience is as chock-full of celebrities as the stage in front of you.

Of course, this does not necessarily mean the production is any good – but this one is simply brilliant.

The Producers is taking Manchester’s Palace Theatre by storm with its gleefully irreverent brand of musical farce, laced with glorious one-liners, fingers up to political correctness and calibrated with comedy genius to boot.

Based on Mel Brooks’ beloved Academy Award winning movie, The Producers tells the story of New York producer Max Bialystock (Cory English) who recruits downtrodden accountant Leo Bloom (comedian Jason Manford) to help him pull off Broadway’s greatest scam.

In their bid to stage a huge musical flop, they accidently pull off a hit – the unlikely ‘Springtime for Hitler.’

But this production is not about the story, it is about the telling and is most definitely not for the cultural sensitive or indeed, faint hearted.

It shouldn’t work, but absolutely does, taking the systematic rip out of Nazis, Swedes, Hitler, gay men, lesbians, actors, accountants and old people.

Some cliched Irish New York cops even make a twinkle-toed appearance (on St Patrick’s Day) to get the full set.

Standout hilarious performances included comedian Phill Jupitus as Franz Liebkind; the short fused, carrier pigeon keeping former Nazi, who had the audience almost literally rolling in the aisles, and Tiffany Graves as Ulla the quirky blonde and Scandinavian (‘for breakfast many herrings’) object of Leo Bloom’s affections.

Dancer and TV personality Louis Spence is an audience favourite, basically playing himself as eccentric Carmen Ghia, the assistant to flamboyant director Roger De Bris, who is played by the mesmerising Olivier Award-winning actor David Bedella.

The costumes are amazing and the staging magnificent and constantly changing – there are so many things to look at on stage it is hard to know exactly where to focus through the glittery drag queens and sparkly swastikas.

Jason Manford excels himself through his comedic acting and remarkably high notes (who knew), rightly earning a standing ovation for his efforts from a star-studded audience including John Thompson, Dave Spikey, Kym Marsh and Olympic gold-medal winner Rebecca Adlington.

Absolutely a hit, a musical triumph and a camp extravaganza.