Holroyd Musical & Dramatic Society: The Producers - Review by Daniel Conway
One of the best things about comedy is that it's something that rewards rewatching, particularly when that comedy has broad appeal. You watch something when you are young, and the physical humour is the height of entertainment, but when you are older, it is the turn of phrase or the quick joke that really makes you laugh. The real trick to good comedy is still being funny years later; comedy is a time capsule for values that don't always age well. The multi-hyphenated Mel Brooks' work is evidence of that. His work is so well constructed that it has stood the test of time. The Producers is a show that you could see a million times and still find something new to laugh at. Holroyd Musical & Dramatic Society (HMDS) has produced a slick and engaging production of this amazing show that had me cackling.
Firstly, Jordan Vassallo, as director and president of HMDS, should be so proud of this team. You can tell this is a production that has been cared for and lovingly crafted. I can honestly say, as someone who has seen a fair few HMDS shows, that this was one of, if not the best, productions I have seen come out of the Redgum. Cathy Boyle has done a fantastic job as musical director. The sound was big and bold; the ensemble was tight and sounded amazing. I am particularly impressed with the choreography of M. Seedsman. I have seen or been in shows, and let's be honest, I have been the person for whom clapping in time is hard. The walkers tapping in time during Act 1's finale was truly spectacular. This team has truly done a phenomenal job. Staging is a really important part of any show, and I think Vassallo has made some really great choices by keeping things nice and simple and not overcluttering the stage. Hats off to the team of Adam Ring and Chae Rogan for their digital sets. I have a love/hate relationship with projections in that I question their effectiveness in a lot of shows; this is not the case here. The backdrops were amazing and added to the high-camp nature of the show. I was also so impressed with the stage crew, led by Talisa Whybro; transitions were quick and very obviously rehearsed to keep with the pace of the show. Stage crew often don't get a mention because, when they do their job right, they aren't noticed. These guys did their job right, and I noticed.
This ensemble cast is stacked with performers who you could easily label as scene stealers. From the featured dancers who nail every number to the many ensemble members who have so many costume changes (well done to the costume team, led by Jenna Van Bentum), everyone does an outstanding job. However, I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't mention a few people in more detail.
Max Bialystock is slimy, sleazy, and morally questionable, and yet Matt Glynn made me love him. Glynn is so funny and quick on stage; he makes great facial expressions and has extraordinary timing. Good acting shouldn't feel like saying lines but fully embodying the character; Matt Glynn is a good actor. He had me in stitches during Betrayed and really was the anchor of the production. Eddie Langford as Leo Bloom really shines when he sings. His voice is beautiful and has such a sweet tone. This is highlighted particularly in I Wanna Be A Producer and 'Till Him. You really get an earnestness that suits the production. Caitlin Dennis as Ulla is an absolute bombshell! This lady has presence and pipes. Her solo number When You've Got It, Flaunt It is so entertaining, and she is a beautiful dancer that is so captivating on stage. Clinton Griffiths as Rodger De Bris had me in hysterics. He is a powerhouse performer with amazing physicality, a wonderful voice, and a charm and likeability that are undeniable. The same could also be said for Robbie Cooper. Playing Rodgers' "common law assistant," Carmen Ghia. Everything Cooper did—every step, every movement, every - everything—was mesmerising. Jordan Anderson as Franz Leibkind was delightfully unhinged and fully committed. That is a role that requires going as big as possible, and Anderson did that! He also had the distinct honour of working with the funniest animal puppets I have ever seen!
This is a truly ensemble show that has so much space for people to shine. A few people that really stood out to me were the beautiful voice of Michael Clewes, the hilarious Brooke Rose who leads the charge of the randy old lady brigade, and Fernanda Murialdo who pulls focus in the best way because of her physicality and commitment at all times. I could honestly list every person in the cast, but even though I have chosen to focus on these performers, every single person on stage should be so proud because I was so impressed by everyone.
Opening nights are never without the normal issues of some anticipated cues and timing not being as perfect as they could be. I will say that there were a few noticeable times where mics were not on for dialogue, particularly for the ensemble cast with lines, which is a shame because of how well everyone was doing.
If you couldn't tell from this review, I loved this show. I really, truly enjoyed myself. If you are like me and like smart comedy done by talented people, then run, don't walk, to see the HMDS production of The Producers. I give this show a 4.5 dancing pigeon puppets out of 5.