The Producers
The Producers

Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan.
Music and lyrics by Mel Brooks

Directed by David Taylor. Musical Direction by Colin Guthrie
Choreography by Jane Saunders and Janet South

Monday 28th July -
Friday 1st August, 2014

The Tower Theatre performing
at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall

Review by Jenni Balow

"It was shocking, outrageous and insulting and I loved every minute of it : a satirical masterpiece" - that was how a Broadway critic rated the play The Producers, and I couldn't put it better if I tried.

Political correctness went out of the window when Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan got together on the script, first for a film, and then a multi-award-winning musical brimming with Jewish humour at its sharpest and aimed straight at the heart of Hitler.

Have you ever seen a racing pigeon give a Nazi salute with its wing? Well, you will if you watch carefully in this outstandingly funny production by the London-based actors of the Tower Theatre Company.

This is an amateur production, but it's one of the slickest stage shows you'll see on this side of the Atlantic, and given the full blast of Mel Brooks' controversial, offensive and tasteless wit it deservedly wins a standing ovation.

Director David Taylor ensures the staging is sparkling and spectacular and fit for Broadway, the costumes are fabulous and funny and the tap-dancing and choreography by Jane Saunders and Janet South fills the stage along with sound by musical director Colin Guthrie and his Band.

The entire cast are the stars of the show, headed by the larger-than-life Philip Halpin as Max, (who ad-libs that he doesn't only run a theatre in the round, but on a cliff too), Daniel Bogod as Leo, his neurotic but lovable accountant, the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe lookalike, Katie Waller as Ulla, the nutty Lee Thompson as Franz, the delectable Edward Walsh as Roger, the simpering Angus Jacobs as Carmen and lustful pensioner Alison Liney as Hold-Me-Touch-Me, plus a multi-talented chorus.

For anyone who hasn't got the picture by now, a plot to produce "a sure-fire flop" is hatched by showman Max and the previously innocent accountant Leo, using a fistful of dollars invested by some very naughty grannies, who back him on their backs.

The duo reckon they can run away with a fortune if the show closes after the first-night, so they seek out the worst writer, a Nazi obsessive in helmet and lederhosen, and director, a transvestite dressed as the Chrysler building in New York.

The show, Springtime for Hitler, a gay romp, with swastikas flying, is an overnight sure-fire success, the critics love it, and the investors want their money back. The story goes from there until Max finds himself in a prison cell - with fetchingly striped black and white duvet and pillow.

Eventually a judge finds the defendants "incredibly guilty" but there's no cause for concern - just don't mention the war.

Photography by Lynn Batten of the Minack Theatre

Max Bialystock : Philip Halpin
Leo Bloom : Daniel Bogod
Ulla Inga Hansen Bensen Yonsen Tallen-Hallen Svaden-Svanson : Katie Waller
Franz Liebkind : Lee Thompson
Roger de Bris : Ed Walsh
Carmen Ghia : Angus Jacobs
Hold-Me-Touch-Me : Alison Liney
Street People, Accountants, Chorus Girls, Little Old Ladies, Roger's entourage, Stormtroopers, Cops, Prisoners :
Chloe Dungate
Eloise Horton
Emma Butler
Madeleine Pullen
Poppy Watt
Tegan Mott
Victoria Davis
Victoria Flint
Vyvian Shaw
Adam Hampton-Matthews
Adam Sutcliffe
Angus Jacobs
Christian Lockyer
David Suberu
John Dansey
Leon Hernandez
Phillip Rowlands
Sean McMullan

The Band
Colin Guthrie (Keyboards)
Kieran Stallard (Keyboards)
Lauren Reed (Violin)
Joey Bradick (Cello)
Nathan Harding (Reeds)
Becky Hughes (Reeds)
David Stoneham (Trumpet)
Paul Sanders (Trumpet)
Jonathan Norris (Trombone)
Phillip Ley (Bass)
Peta Barker (Drums)
Jacqui Dickson (Percussion)

Production Team
Director : David Taylor
Musical Director : Colin Guthrie
Choreographers : Jane Saunders and Janet South
Set Design : Phillip Ley
Costume Design : Lynda Twidale, Irena Panser and Alex Scully
Lighting Design : Alan Wilkinson
Associate Lighting Design : Robin Snowdon
Sound Design : Stephen Ley
Production Manager : Sarah Ambrose

Stage Manager : Binny Sood
Assistant Stage Managers : Phillip Ley, Andy Hind, Lily Anne Green, Will Norris, Eddie Coleman, David Taylor, David Holyoake, Anne Connell
Lighting Operators : Laurence Tuerk, Penny Tuerk
Sound Operators : Stephen Ley or Phillip Ley, Colin Guthrie
Set Construction : Phillip Ley, Jude Chalk, Keith Syrett, Michael Bettell, Laurence Tuerk, Katie South
Special Furniture Construction : Andy Hind
Front of House co-ordinator : Jayne Lawrence
Front of House : Irena Panser, Katie Barker, Melanie Barker, Lesley Bilton, David Holyoake, Carol Borrill, Nigel Borrill, Cathy Neeson, Nick Fison, David Shaw, Pru Guthrie, Mike Howard, Jeff Kelly, Peter Novis, Alan Root, Paul Sanders, Peter Westbury, Val Whitehouse

Philip Halpin has been involved in amateur theatre for the past 25 years across London and Essex. Favourite roles include Will Rogers (The Will Rogers Follies), Don (Singin' in the Rain) and The Baker (Into the Woods). He is thrilled to be making his debut with the Tower Theatre - playing Max has been a long awaited wish! Kevin, this one is for you buddy. x
Originally from Nottingham, Daniel Bogod has performed in various shows since moving south some eight years ago. Previous roles include Lumière (Beauty and the Beast), Toby (Sweeney Todd) and Jesus (Jesus Christ Superstar). The Producers is Daniel's second appearance for the Tower Theatre following last summer's The Taming of the Shrew.
Katie Waller's first musical came at the age of 15 when she played 13 year-old Louisa in The Sound of Music, setting a precedent of never playing to age. Other roles include Millie (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Kathy (Singin' in the Rain) and Adelaide (Guys and Dolls). The Producers is Katie's first show with the Tower Theatre.
This is Lee Thompson's first show with the Tower Theatre. Previous credits include The Scarlet Pimpernel, Chess, Acorn Antiques, 42nd Street and Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. Directing credits include The Baker's Wife, Hair, Me and My Girl, Crazy For You, Hot Mikado and Children of Eden. Lee is looking forward to playing a Nazi, a first for him!
Edward Walsh hails from Tipperary in Ireland. He moved to London over ten years ago and has been a regular on stage since. Of his time on The Producers, he says : 'They say sometimes parts choose you ... well, what can I say? "Keep it GAY!" love Roger x'.
Angus Jacobs trained in Musical Theatre at the Guildford School of Acting, before achieving credits on stage, screen and TV, and sailing around the world on the QE2 as principal singer/dancer. Most recently, he directed and choreographed Hot Mikado for SEDOS. Angus is delighted to be playing Carmen in his first show with the Tower.
Alison Liney has been a member of the Tower Theatre for over 17 years. Recent roles include Mrs Higgins (Pygmalion), Doris (My Mother Said I Never Should), Mrs Grose (The Turn of the Screw - Chelsea Players), Marie (Calendar Girls) and Daisy (Driving Miss Daisy).
Emma Butler has previously appeared in numerous shows with SEDOS and Centre Stage and is delighted to complete the 'golden triangle' of City of London amdram with her first Tower Theatre production. When not in cheesy musicals, Emma is an employment lawyer for a large city insurer.
John Dansey has been singing, acting and trying to dance for several years. Singing roles range from the Doctor in Verdi's Macbeth to Mr Perks in The Railway Children. Acting roles include Starveling/Moonshine (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and the beaten-up messenger (Antony and Cleopatra).
Victoria Davis began performing at a young age in Belfast before seeking out London's bright lights. Recent performances include Steel Pier, The Boy Friend, Beauty and the Beast and London 2012's Olympic Ceremonies. She is delighted to be back with the Tower playing an eclectic bunch of characters ... from lil' ol' ladies to hotsy-totsy Nazis!
The Producers marks Chloe Dungate's debut with The Tower and her first female role since 1995, when she played an angel in her school Nativity. Her proudest roles include Mole (The Wind in the Willows), Captain of Men (Lysistrata) and Miscellaneous (asdfmovie). Critics are calling her "Have I seen you on YouTube?"
Victoria Flint began her career as a quick-change artiste in A Chorus Line (just 25 seconds into head-to-toe silver lamé!) and has been perfecting her technique ever since. Favourite quick-change roles include Sarah (Guys and Dolls), Ruby (Dames at Sea) and Gilda (Design for Living). She is looking forward to the double-triple quick-change of usherette-showgirl-old-lady-tap-dancing-Nazi.
This is Adam Hampton-Matthews' first show with the Tower Theatre and hopefully his first of many in London. He has performed in many musicals and plays in his hometown of Newcastle, including roles such as Uncle Max (The Sound of Music), Leaf (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and Lawrence (Calendar Girls).
Leon Hernandez is joining the Tower Theatre fresh after graduating from the Northumberland School of Standing at the Back where he specialised in standing, standing with presence, dance-standing, kneeling-into-standing and zimmer-framery. The Producers is the perfect musical to showcase these talents to an adoring public.
Eloise Horton is delighted to be making her debut with the Tower Theatre and performing at the Bridewell Theatre. The Producers has always been one of her favourites - where else do you get to be a showgirl, a granny, a tapping stormtrooper and a convict all in the same show?!
Poppy Watt works as part of the Front of House team at the Minack Theatre, but until now has never appeared on stage there. She is thrilled to be joining the Tower Theatre Company for their week in Cornwall.
Christian Lockyer returns to the stage after a three-year break following a move to London from Somerset, where he performed as Lumière (Beauty and the Beast), Motel (Fiddler on the Roof), Herod (Jesus Christ Superstar), Keno Walsh (The Full Monty), cabin crew (Return to the Forbidden Planet) and Idle Jack (Dick Whittington).
Sean McMullan is making his debut with the Tower Theatre. Other roles include Sidney (Deathtrap), Scapino (Scapino), Charlie (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Chiltern (An Ideal Husband), and various personages in Happy as a Sandbag. Sean also enjoys missing rehearsals to play trumpet in the Morley Big Band.
Tegan Mott trained in musical theatre at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, graduating in 2012 and is now looking to break into the industry after having some time out. The Producers is Tegan's first show with the Tower Theatre and hopefully a stepping stone in beginning the journey to her dream.
Madeleine Pullen works for a big accountancy firm in London and has recently got back into musical theatre after a six-year break. Her previous shows include 42nd Street and Les Misérables and she is very happy to be back in her tap shoes for The Producers.
Phillip Rowlands studied performing arts before working as a professional actor and dancer in various tours and pantomimes. Over the last 14 years, he has been performing regularly at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford. Favourite roles include Huck (Big River), Tom Thumb (Barnum), Harry (The Ladykillers), Laurie (Little Women) and Rod/Princeton (Avenue Q).
Vyvian Shaw has been a member of the Tower Theatre since 1993. She has particularly happy memories of The Wind in the Willows at the Minack, Annie and Guys and Dolls. Lots of singing followed with Voicelab at the Southbank and a brief respite for Murder in the Cathedral. Now facing retirement, Vyvian is back with the Tower!
The Producers marks David Suberu's debut both with the Tower and in musical theatre. He has danced professionally around the world, appeared in music videos for George Michael and Toni Braxton and toured with Boney M. He was also the face of the Notting Hill Carnival 2004, appearing on posters, billboards and buses across London.
Adam Sutcliffe's second outing with the Tower Theatre follows hard on the heels of his debut as Le Beau/Troubadour in As You Like It. Elsewhere he has played the Mock Turtle (Alice), Creon (Antigone) and Frank (Educating Rita).
David Taylor is a long-standing director of shows and plays ranging from the three-hander Driving Miss Daisy to a cast of 30 in Lark Rise, which was also seen at the Minack. David is very pleased to be working again with his regular collaborators who helped him through Valmouth (1986), Annie (2003) and The Boy Friend (2011).
Colin Guthrie has acted as a musical director for many Tower shows, including Goodnight Mister Tom and Telstar. He has also composed music for David Copperfield and Lark Rise among others. Directing credits include The Voysey Inheritance, as well as the last play produced at the Tower's old home, Strangers on a Train.
Jane Saunders has choreographed for the Tower's Hot Mikado and Annie. Other credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Baby (all for SEDOS); and West Side Story, Mack and Mabel, Jesus Christ Superstar and Anything Goes (all for Cygnet Players).
Janet South's choreography credits include Company, The Wind in the Willows, Curiouser and Curiouser, Sweet Charity, Cabaret, Mr Cinders and The Boy Friend. When not rehearsing, Janet can be found doing jazz hands at Pineapple Studios or thwacking a shuttlecock around a North London sports centre.