I have to confess. I don’t like musicals. A perfectly reasonable drama gets under way only to be ruined when someone starts singing a trite song. Friends have taken me to them promising that this time I would like it. I frown disapprovingly through them all. Friday night saw the latest attempt. I went to see The Producers at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. This was even more unpromising as I love the 1968 film it was based on and have seen it dozens of times.
After two and a half hours of exuberant lunacy, I was laughing all the way home and can’t get the songs out of my head. To paraphrase one of the numbers, where did it go right? It was a parody of a parody and an even bigger parody of all the musicals in the world I have tried to dislike. It was bold, energetic, over the top, loud and brassy. Its humour was wild, anarchic, incorrect and unceasing. The dialogue that was lifted from the film did disappoint; no one could match Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder after all, but the songs were hilarious and the dance routines spectacular in their absurdity. Even the miscast Peter Kay camped it up to marvellous effect. My favourite moments were the singing Nazi pigeons and the tap dancing routine by the little old ladies with Zimmer frames.
Nothing is good unless there is a serious heart to it. Mel Brooks has often talked of humour as one way to combat evil with the joy of humanity. OK this is probably pretentious garbage but I have to find an excuse for enjoying a musical. Now I can truly say that I only hate musicals that take themselves too seriously.