On Saturday evening I was treated to a press preview of Footlights’ latest musical, The Producers, a rip-roaring feast of salacious Broadway indulgence from curtain up to curtain call. Peppered with bold, brassy numbers resonating with a nostalgia for the unabashed, unrestrained and utterly mesmerising Golden Age of musical theatre, the show is a welcome onslaught to the senses that refuses to let up.
Full of physicality and brimming with the risqué, leads Ashley Gillard (Max Bialystock) and Lucas Bailey (Leopold Bloom) play each scene with comedic gumption and satiric gusto. Well supported by an exceptional ensemble cast, the sheer scale of the production cannot fail to bedazzle and enthral in equal parts. With the theatre company having brought both Evita and Phantom of the Opera to the stage in previous years, choreographer Amy Lotherington says the production brings an energising “change of pace for Footlights”, giving the cast a welcome opportunity to foster and hone their skills in the sensational creative outlet that this dazzling musical provides.
But despite its absurdity and gleeful bawdiness, director Ben Philipp points to the shows “piercing political relevance” as “Hitler, the archetypal bigot” is brought under the bright lights of Broadway only to throw satiric shadows across the stage. Philipp cites the musical’s use of “laughter as a corrective to vice and folly” in the face of “bigotry [becoming] legitimised on a public platform”, the relevance of which is, I’m sure, only too evident in today’s world. But enough about Donald Trump. The satirical undertones coupled with a bellyful of laughs cast a cheeky wink the audience’s way at every opportunity and leave them smiling well past the final bow.
Running at Exeter Northcott Theatre from Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th January 2017, The Producers is an explosion of irreverent absurdity not to be missed. The Facebook event can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1148335481928271/ and tickets can be bought online from the Northcott website: https://exeternorthcott.co.uk/calendar/the-producers/https://exeternorthcott.co.uk/calendar/the-producers/ But be quick as tickets for the Saturday performance have already sold out!