The Producers - Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society

Keiron PimNorwich Theatre RoyalKeiron Pim

Norwich Theatre Royal

It was one of the great Broadway hits of the past decade and last night Mel Brooks' musical The Producers made an impressive transition to the Theatre Royal stage courtesy of the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society.

New York, 1959, and Max Bialystock is a down-on-his-luck producer. Once all he touched turned to gold; now the papers are queuing up to slate him. As he admits, 'the reviews come out a little faster when the critics leave at the intermission'. Shows such as 'When Cousins Marry' and 'Funny Boy', a musical version of Hamlet, have failed to resurrect the self-styled King of Old Broadway's career - so along with his nerdy accountant Leo Bloom, he hits on a plan: get a huge amount of financial backing for the worst show ever, watch it fold after one night and make off with the money.

When they find pigeon-keeping Nazi Franz Liebkind's musical Springtime for Hitler and team it with outrageously camp director Roger DeBris, who 'couldn't direct you to the bathroom', they're sure they'll have a flop on their hands.

But some things are so bad they're good…

The only signs that this was the first night of an amateur production were the tardy scene-changing and a rather muted opening minute or two, but the cast quickly found their voices. Nick Bird was assured as Bialystock and Laurence Guymer was winningly energetic as the neurotic Bloom. Holly Graham's vocals were superb as the Swedish blonde bombshell actress Ulla and Adrian Wright was hilarious - first as DeBris, then by taking the 'star' role in Springtime for Hitler as a mincing Fuhrer with 'a song in his heart'. It is a show better known for its humour than for sing-along songs, but numbers such as Along Came Bialy and Keep it Gay are certainly memorable.

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The ensemble cast totalled almost 50 and as ever with the N&N had a live orchestral backing. Together they more than did The Producers justice: it was well sung, danced and acted and, most of all, very funny.

t The Producers runs until Saturday, February 6, at the Theatre Royal, Norwich. Call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit