Outrageously Funny

Max Bialystock's done it again! After the Broadway producer's show "Funny Boy," a musical version of "Hamlet," closes on opening night, Bialystock swears that he will one day return to success. When he hires Leo Bloom — a mousy accountant who dreams of becoming a Broadway producer himself — to audit his books, Bloom finds an accounting error and reluctantly agrees to hide it. Bloom later realizes that a producer could make more money with a flop than a hit by overselling shares and pocketing the difference, since the IRS wouldn't be interested in a failed play.

Thus, Bialystock hatches his plan; raise $2 million and put on a guaranteed flop with the worst script, the worst director and the worst actors on Broadway. Bialystock and Bloom find the absurdly offensive "Springtime for Hitler" and everything seems to be going to plan until the unthinkable happens — the show is a hit.

Mel Brooks directed and won an Oscar for his screenplay for the original film in 1968, starring Gene Wilder as Bloom and Zero Mostel as Bialystock. Brooks adapted the movie into a stage musical, which opened on Broadway in 2001 starring Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom. The show won a record 12 Tony awards, including Best Musical. The musical was adapted into a film in 2005, with Lane and Broderick reprising their roles.

Camelot Theatre Company's production of "The Producers" previews Wednesday and Thursday, March 19-20, opens Friday, March 21, and runs through April 20. Curtain is at 8 p.m Thursdays through Fridays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

The March 19 show is a benefit for Siskiyou Singers. Tickets cost $30 and can be purchased by calling 541-482-5290. Tickets for the March 20 preview cost $12.

All other tickets cost $27, $25 for students and seniors (except for Sunday matinees), and can be purchased at the box office, online at www.camelottheatre.org or by calling 541-535-5250. Reserved seating is available for an extra $2 per ticket. There will be a "pay what you can" performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26.

The production is directed by Livia Genise and stars David King-Gabriel as Bialystock, Peter Wickliffe as Bloom and Kelly Jean Hammond as Ulla — the pair's "secretary-slash-receptionist" and love interest.

Genise describes Brooks' comedy as cheerfully funny.

"If you're familiar with Mel Brooks, you realize that he offends everyone," Genise says. "The book even says on it: 'Will offend people of all races, creeds and religions.'

"Brooks has a way of realizing everyone's humanity, and 'The Producers' is written with a lot of love and so much humor."

Genise says that one of the standout performances of the show is Don Matthews' number as Broadway director Roger De Bries, "Keep it Gay."

"He's 6-foot-6 and is wearing heels and a big headpiece," Genise says.

"It's hilarious."

Other standout performances include Bloom's "I Want to Be a Producer," where the nerdy accountant gets the spotlight and is surrounded by chorus girls, and "Betrayed," which finds Bialystock recounting the whole show in short phrases.

"The music and the story are great," Genise says. "It's so theatrical and funny, we've rated it PG-13 for outrageousness."

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