Cranbrook Community Theatre is bringing it’s most ambitious project to the stage, ringing in the New Year and beyond with a classic musical comedy.CCT, in conjunction with the Key City Theatre, is mounting “The Producers” at a special New Year’s Eve gala and a further run later in January, 2018.“The Producers” is a musical by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan , with music and lyrics by Brooks. The story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful.Directed by Brenda Babinski, “The Producers” is CCT’s largest production in its 43-year-history, drawing on the immense dramatic talent pool of Cranbrook and Kimberley to bring the show to life.“The Producers” is an evolution from Babinski’s previous New Year’s Eve staged readings at the Studio Stage Door theatre — “Young Frankenstein” and Spamelot” — popular draws which CCT is taking to the next step with the live action “Producers.”
“I am very excited to be taking part in the historic first big collaboration between CCT and KCT,” Babinski told the Townsman. “The two theatres do so much for the community, and to be given the opportunity to take things to a whole new level is both terrifying, humbling and super exciting.”
The staged readings were already close to full productions, with choreography, silly costumes, campy props and actors who were off book from their scripts. “Adding in a great big set, spectacular lighting, a cast of thousands (or so it seems at times) and real costumes and props has allowed the creative process to be a lot more fun and challenging,” Babinski said. “At times it has felt a bit like I’m herding cats, but for the most part has been a truly joyful process, and a chance to personally take things to the next level.
“I am honoured that the two theatres have trusted me to be at the helm for this maiden voyage.”
A cast of thousands indeed.
“The Producers” draws upon actors Jeremy Youngward and Mitchell Graw play the lead roles in the production. Max and Leo are two guys who couldn’t be less alike but who form a fast friendship while trying to pull off creating a production that will be the worst show ever to hit a Broadway stage.
“They bring these two scoundrels to life and have a fantastic chemistry on the stage,” Babinski said.
Bob McCue and Carter Gulseth are playing the roles of Roger DeBris and Carmen Ghia, the worst director in Broadway and his common law assistant. David Booth brings the psychotically hilarious Franz Liebkind to life, author of the worst play ever written — “Springtime for Hitler.”
Emily Bohmer plays the blonde bombshell, Ulla, a Swedish temptress who manages to come between Max and Leo, but is so charming about it that nobody seems to mind
“Our ensemble is huge and is comprised of some of the most hard working and dedicated performers in the area,” Babinski said. “They range in experience from the seasoned professionally trained to the terrified newbie, and when you watch them perform it is difficult to tell who is which. They have worked so hard on their singing, dancing and acting that they all seem like pros.”
“The Producers” has brought together a team of artists, performers, set designers, costumers and props masters. “And in doing so we have become greater than the sum of our parts,” Babinski said.
Kirsten Taylor has headed the visual production of an art deco style set — which really consists of seven full sets. Terry Miller, one of the show’s producers (in real life), has also been working on set design and has engineered everything to allow for swift and interesting scene changes. Beth Turcon and Anna Ruoss have choreographed the show, Chris Tulloch and Sandra Cave are in charge of props, and Key City Theatre manager Galen Olstead has stepped in as both a producer and lighting designer and has put a fantastic team of techs to illuminate everyone.
Drew Lyall and Colton VanHooren are taking on the sound engineering and will also be running the professional backing tracks that come from the original New York production. For every performer you see on the stage there are several behind the scenes making everything come to life.
“When all is said and done we will have been working together for five months on a passion project that we have all invested our time, our creativity and our energy into,” Babinski said. “The friendships and bonds that come out of a process like this tend to endure and to make it all worthwhile.”
Babinski said that audiences can expect “to laugh their butts off, be shocked, be riveted, and perhaps even get a bit misty and sentimental.
“The author, Mel Brooks, is well known for his daring, bawdy and riotous humour, and ‘The Producers’ is no exception,” she added. “Ridiculous accents, silly caricatures, and outrageous antics abound where nothing (and nobody) is off limits.”
“The Producers” New Years Eve gala is sold out but there are plenty of great seats left for the run which happens at the Key City Theatre on January 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 & 20. Tickets are available at the Key City Theatre box office or online at keycitytheatre.com.