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The Producers

Despite excellent work by Brad Oscar and Leigh Zimmerman, the much-shortened Las Vegas production of the Broadway hit feels like a sell-out. logo
Larry Raben, Brad Oscar, and Leigh Zimmerman
in The Producers
(© Paul Kolnik)
The Broadway version of The Producers played to sold-out houses for its first year, but history may not repeat itself in Las Vegas. Why? The 90-minute version of The Producers, now on view at the Paris Las Vegas, is more of a sell-out than a bona fide version of the hit musical.

Based on Mel Brooks' classic movie of the same title, the show is the story of two very different men: Max Bialystock (played wonderfully here by Brad Oscar), a Broadway producer with a string of flops behind him; and Leo Bloom (played halfway decently by Larry Raben), his mousy accountant, who discovers that the two can make a fortune by purposefully producing a terrible show.

They set out to find the worst play, director, and actors, over-sell the rights to the show, and then wait for it to close with a resounding thud. But all does not go according to their plan. Full of every cliché and stereotype, The Producers is an equal-opportunity offender that allows audiences to laugh at themselves.

Unlike some other Broadway musicals that have been transported to Las Vegas, this one has made the trip with no major physical alterations. On the surface, everything is exactly as it is in New York, with the same costumes and set designs. And since the show is already full of showgirls, not to mention one very leggy blonde receptionist named Ulla (Leigh Zimmerman), there was no real need to add any more glitz in order to make The Producers sufficiently "Vegasy".

Physical similarities aside, the show is almost a different animal than the Broadway version. It has been cut from its normal running time of two hours and 40 minutes to a Vegas-friendly 90 minutes, and some odd choices were made in the editing process. For example, while every huge Susan Stroman-choreographed production number has been kept completely intact, many of the songs that help to further the already thin plot are gone, including "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop," "Where Did We Go Right?", and Max's show-stopping, second-act solo "Betrayed."

One of the most glaring cuts is that of the charming song and dance duet "That Face." Now, Leo -- who was terrified of women -- is suddenly dating his bombshell Swedish secretary with no explanation whatsoever. Moreover, the omission deprives the audience of the chance to see Zimmerman further showcased; she truly flaunts her talents, moving across the stage with a dancer's grace and displaying a powerful voice.

Apparently, one of the reasons why many of the other characters' songs were cut was to ensure that David Hasselhoff, in the role of the flamboyantly gay director Roger DeBris, would get as much stage time as possible. It's too bad that Hasselhoff can't pull off the role. In fact, it seems no one bothered to mention to him that he would have to play gay! In his first scene, Hasselhoff appears onstage in a shimmering gown, something that his character is supposed to be quite comfortable in; yet he lunges around the stage, completely unaware of how to handle the costume or himself. Worse, one gets the impression that Hasselhoff thinks he's going over-the-top, but he really doesn't even get halfway up the hill.

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