torstai 24. toukokuuta 2012

The Producers - Budapest 2010

My taste in musicals is quite specific, but nowadays I like to go and see all kinds of musicals if I get the chance, just out of curiosity. Budapest is for me the perfect place for it, because there are several shows playing simultaneously and the theatres are all repertoire theatres, so already one theatre performs several different musicals per week. The tickets are also cheap, at least when compared to the big theatres in West End, Broadway, Vienna and Germany, and the quality is mostly excellent. I've found some really great shows this way and have had my prejudices proved wrong many times. My favourite examples are Spamalot and Avenue Q: I went to theatre without knowing anything about the show and came out with a stomach ache from all that laughing.

The Producers, though, has been one of my biggest disappointments in theatre, even though the production in the Madách Theatre in Budapest was technically good and I didn't have very high hopes to start with. The humour and the music just didn't match my taste at all and the story didn't have anything to offer for me. The actors were good and did what they could with the characters, but it wasn't enough to save the evening.

By this point I had learned enough Hungarian to understand some jokes, and since they had the original English libretto as surtitles, I could also read the original lyrics*. I had the feeling that I've heard all the jokes before in some B-class sitcom or joke collection or in school when I was 12. There wasn't anything original, radical or shocking in them; they felt just lame, forced and unimaginative. It's not that I'd have a problem with jokes about gays, sex, blondes and Hitler as such, because it's very well possible to make good jokes about those topics, but the jokes in the musical simply felt childish. And since the story of the musical is one big joke about gays, sex, blondes and Hitler and squeezes everything out of those topics, I started to get rather bored after 15 minutes. Besides, Ulla's "Swedish" accent wasn't Swedish at all. :-P

I like the general idea of the show - a conman-like producer's attempt to make a really bad musical about Hitler and get away with the production money - but the characters wrapped around it felt lame and one-sided. There was a funny scene/song or two, like something with hilarious fake pigeons and Leo Bloom's office life scene. Now when I watch the video, I think I could like a scene or two out of context, but a whole musical with the same joke recycled over and over was too much.

At some point I also got an overdose of the Broadway-like dance routines that accompanied almost every scene. I'm not a fan of the most stereotypical Broadway style of making musicals, and even though The Producers partly seemed to be a parody of it, that joke got old quite quickly, too. I did like the staging, and the sets looked great.

I never saw The Producers in Helsinki when it played there back in 2007/2008, but here's the Finnish trailer if anyone's interested. The Hungarian production also seems to have closed, after four years and 200 performances.

* Note: this is not the way to do theatre texts. There's too much text in the lyrics and you don't have time to read them, plus half of the time they don't have much to do with what people are singing or saying on stage. I'm Finnish and am used to reading subtitles but I still couldn't get much out of them, so I can imagine how difficult it must be for someone in whose country everything foreign in TV and movies is not subtitled.

2 kommenttia:

Elwingda kirjoitti...

'The Producers' is one of those interesting musicals which really gets to some people when others don't like it at all. I personally think it's absolutely brilliant. I don't know if you've seen the film version with Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and Uma Thurman (from 2005 I think) but that made me laugh so much. It is quite theatrical in the sense that it contains long scenes with talking and of course Lane and Broderick having played the roles on Broadway, their facial expressions etc. are exaggerated in the way that you would expect on stage.

With 'The Producers', I think it is the plot that keeps my interest (I just find the basic idea behind it rather genius even if it goes a bit over the top towards the end). And, well, I can also relate to the jokes about the Swedish (I don't think Ulla's accent is even supposed to be Swedish, I think one of the jokes is that it really is nowhere near because even in the film her accent is kind of obscure).

I am hoping to see a professional stage production of this at some point (I have been to see a drama school student production) to see whether I still end up preferring the film. I do wish I had seen the Helsinki production.

Laura kirjoitti...

I like the plot, too, and I'd like to see some very non-replica production with a very adapted translation to see how that would work, because now the humour in the musical just doesn't match my sense of humour at all. I've seen most of the movie, and it caused similar *facepalm* reactions, even though the actors etc. were good. People indeed seem to either love or hate the musical and I can understand why, it does its thing in such an over-the-top way.