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“It ain’t no mystery if it’s politics or history/The thing you gotta know is everything is showbiz.”

No one has mastered the quintessentially Jewish American, erudite shlapstick brand of humour quite like Mel Brooks. And never has he reaped so hilarious a harvest from his cultured corn as with this Broadway adaptation of The Producers.

If, over the years, the silliness has sometimes outweighed the satire, here we have a reminder that at the top of his game Brooks is an accomplished alchemist, blending wit and inanity to produce golden comedic nuggets.

Writer, producer, actor: Brooks has never been afraid to let loose his multifarious creativity, and songwriting is an important part of the package. Springtime For Hitler and Germany might not be a phrase to induce luftwaffe heights of laughter per se, but its hilarity inflates like the Weimar republic when married to such an irresistibly cheerful melody. And just when you think it can’t get any funnier there’s always an extra kick in the goosestep: “Watch out Europe we’re going on tour.”

The musical format lends itself beautifully to CD in that anyone young enough to be unfamiliar with the original film, or old enough to have forgotten it, can pick up the nutty narrative from the play of the songs. For those who don’t know, the basic premise involves a Broadway shyster and his reluctant nebbish of a sidekick implementing a get-rich-scheme that relies on the world’s worst musical—or so they think. A riotously picaresque farce to be sure, but presented straightforwardly enough for a 2000-year-old man to follow.

Just as you don’t need to speak German to chortle at Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band? you don’t need an expert knowledge of Broadway to rejoice in the brilliant orchestral parodies of arranger Glen Kelly. As Broadway itself is replete with an innately parodist sensibility, a myriad of parodies within parodies develops that is hard to keep pace with—but it’s great fun trying.

Sweetened with peerless performances from Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock, Matthew Broderick as the late-flowering Leo Bloom and a stirling support cast, even a neo-Nazi would struggle to find this comic masterpiece any less delicious than freshly baked Black Forest cake. And if In Old Bavaria brings a tear to a Teutonic eye, strapping on the lederhosen for a round of Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop should banish the weltschmerz forthwith.
Brad Green

Published July 19, 2001

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Track 15 - Springtime For Hitler
Track 12 - Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band?
Track 1 - Overture
Track 7 - Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop

TITLE: Producers, The

ID: SK 89646


Original Broadway Cast Recording


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