Friday, 12 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Twelve: The Producers

Well we all knew I'd have to get to this one eventually.


If you have read The Author page or happened to know me in 2005, or noticed the hat,
then you’ll know that I have a special relationship with The Producers. 

Sometime towards the end of 2004, while I was at university, I saw a picture in the paper of Nathan Lane in a hat.  I like Nathan Lane a lot.  So I read the article, which I think was a sort of ‘what’s hot/must see’ kind of list and apparently this new stage show The Producers was the top of the current ‘you’d be a fool to miss it’ list.

I vaguely recalled several years previously when the show opened in America that The Butler and I bemoaned the lack of ability to travel to Broadway whenever we felt like it, because a show starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick sounded perfect.  But since it was impossible, I quickly put it out of The Mind for three or so years.

But now it had opened in the West End.  I could go see Nathan Lane!  (Didn’t care a jot about Lee Evans though).

So I suggested it to The Leo and he was game so we booked our incredibly expensive tickets for the new year, just before we’d return to uni after Christmas.

Only then Nathan Lane, who wasn’t supposed to have been in the West End show at all and was called in last minute when Richard Dreyfuss didn’t work out and no one else would be good enough at this late stage other than the guy who originated the role on stage and so was not in peak physical condition because he’d come straight out of another show to do it, hurt his back and couldn’t be in the show any more.

And I went through a lot of emotions.  There was no point seeing the show any more because the only reason I wanted to see it was to see Nathan Lane, one of The Favouritist Of Actors, and he wasn’t bloody well in it any more.

But I still had the tickets.  And The Leo wanted to see it regardless of cast.  So we went (taking in the Theatre Museum first for something to do).

The Producers (book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Mel Brooks/Theatre Royal Drury Lane /5th January 2005)

And about one second after the understudy Cory English had lowered the newspaper at the end of Opening Night—The reviews come out a lot faster when the critics leave at intermission—I was sold.  By the time he was singing We Can Do It, a scene later, I had never loved an actor as much as I loved him.

I nearly died laughing at that show.  I can remember leaning over, unable to breathe because I couldn’t stop laughing, and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do.

Y’know that rule I had about not giving standing ovations unless they were deserved?  Well, The Producers deserved a standing ovation, but the people in front of me didn’t stand up, so neither did I.  And I realised I could now NEVER EVER give a standing ovation because I hadn’t for the greatest thing I had ever seen.  I had cursed The Self.

I went out as soon as I got home and bought the soundtrack, which is the best CD I own, still.

The Producers became The New Favourite Show, and unlike Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Singin’ In The Rain before it, I doubt it’s going to be replaced.  It’s one of those things that’s greater than the sum of its parts, or at least the performances and sets and music do miracles with the book, and it clearly hit me at just the right moment in The Life.  It was the funniest, happiest, most magical experience and I will always cherish that memory.  Sure, afterwards, I became mind-dribblingly obsessed and never talked about anything else for months, but I also gained a confidence to be me that hadn’t been there before.  It changed The Life.  And for a year after I saw it, I was happy all the time.

When the film version of the show came out in December 2005, I went to see it SIX times at the cinema. 

Y’know that other rule I had about never seeing the same show twice?  Well, I broke that one for The Producers.  But only just.  I would see the show again.  But only if it was the right Max Bialystock.

When Cory English became the lead in 2006, I went to see the show again (this time with The Housemate, who technically wasn’t the housemate yet). 

The Producers (Theatre Royal Drury Lane/22nd May 2006)

We got lost in London.
If only there were landmarks you could use to get your bearings.

This time I took in a tour of the theatre first, which was awesome.
Disposable cameras are less awesome.

Pretend you didn't see this one.

Allegedly the Queen's chair.

Mr English's dressing room!

I think this one is under the stage.

In the wings.

The doors to the stage, big enough for elephants.

Saw the show again, which was unfortunately not the greatest performance (a few dropped lines on top of having to live up to The INSANE LOVE Expectations) and afterwards I went to the stage door for the first (and probably only) time in The Life and got Cory English’s autograph, and a photo (which sits on The Desk – a constant reminder of how INSANELY GLEEFUL I was and the mad giggling I made as I walked away, which I’m fully aware he could hear). 

And when the run finished, I went to see the final performance

The Producers (Theatre Royal Drury Lane /6th January 2007)

and it was just as amazingly awesome as ever. 
The Impression Of Max Bialystock
And I managed to break the curse.  I gave The Producers a standing ovation.  The First and the most deserved.  So now I can give them out whenever I feel like it, but they’ll never deserve it as much as that first one.

I’ll always be glad that I saw Cory English as Max three times in three years.

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