Classic play The Producers comes to Trinity Theatre

Classic play The Producers comes to Trinity Theatre

Next week Trinity Theatre puts on their production of Mel Brooks’ legendary musical The Producers. Its Artistic Director and star, John Martin, tells the Times why it’s going to be so special.

For the past few years, the scale of my summer productions have increased in their size and ambition, so after last year’s run of One Man, Two Guvnors the challenge was to ‘follow that!’

Trinity’s late Finance Manager Richard Wilson had long been encouraging me to do Mel Brooks’ The Producers, but as I always try to alternate plays and musicals I was slightly nervous of this particular show because of its size and complexity.
However, having pulled off One Man, Two Guvnors, I realised that we did indeed have the potential to undertake a project like this and we decided to take the plunge.

And it’s for that reason I’m dedicating our interpretation of The Producers to Richard Wilson’s memory, for both his encouragement and for sowing the seed of the idea.

For those not familiar with The Producers, it’s essentially about a down-on-his-luck theatre producer named Max Bialystock (played by me) who meets an accountant, Leo Bloom, (Tom Tapsfield), who comes up with the idea that you can make more money with a flop musical than a hit.

As a result, they set out to put on the worst play ever, with the worst director and the worst cast, so Bloom’s scheme can work. Of course you can guess what the actual outcome is!

Last year The Producers celebrated its 50th anniversary, and for me I think the ultimate secret to its success and longevity is Mel Brooks’ humour. It honestly has to be the funniest musical I have ever seen!

I was lucky enough to see it in its original production on Broadway, with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, in the title roles, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard!

It is also a love letter to Broadway and musicals in general.
In our production we’re sticking true to Brooks’s original story and plot but, where possible, we’re putting our own spin on it – partly out of necessity due to the sheer size of the show.

The song Springtime for Hitler, for example, has a very unique staging by our choreographer Sally-Anne Leigh. We also have our largest professional ensemble taking part – a total of 12 people – who are going to be extremely busy playing all the various roles.

We have a lovely company, made up of both locals and those from further afield. They have come together to do this production and we are all enjoying the camaraderie of rehearsals and working hard in a short period of time. We’ve been able to maximise our rehearsal time of just ten days courtesy of our friends at the Nuffield Gym, who have kindly let us rehearse in two separate studios.

Everyone is working incredibly hard and supporting each other in pulling the show together – a wonderful example of teamwork! We also have a great technical team who are working on constructing some elements of the scenery, which will then be incorporated within a hired set.

The costumes are coming together nicely for the show, too, and we often joke that we’ll be entering the Guinness Book of Records due to the number of costume changes within a single number!

One of our ensemble members, Harvey Ebbage, has grown up with Trinity Theatre working on our Christmas shows, but this is his first professional engagement before he embarks on his formal training at The Urdang Academy in London this September – the day after our run finishes!
I think Harvey is a lovely example of how Trinity offers young people opportunities in all aspects of the theatre, and gives them the chance to grow and develop.

I hope the spirit of fun and enjoyment we’ve experienced working on this production will communicate itself to our audiences, and that they enjoy both the scale and spectacle of the show.

Ultimately, The Producers encourages us to laugh at tyrants who rob people of their power, and I think that this is something we need to be reminded of – more now than ever!

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