Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Producers

Lakewood Theatre Co.
July 10 - August 23, 2009

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

Opening night was great. One set change seemed to go slightly awry, which was the only technical glitch I noticed. This is a huge production by any standard. Jay Pevney was fantastic (though I think he went up on lyrics a couple of times--he covered very well). Todd Tschida is great as nervous Leo and Sara Catherine Wheatley is unbelievable as Ulla. Really great supporting cast, and one of the best sounding pit bands I've heard in Portland theater--really big sound. Go see this, you won't be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree that opening night was great. While the leads were excellent, the supporting cast -- Burl Ross, Tim Smith, Joseph J. Klei, the fabulous ensemble and their superb costumes -- were tremendous! A small quibble about about the pit orchestra. I kept thinking they should have a bigger sound and one of them seemed as if he/she was having a very off night. They need to smooth out a few problems with the sets, but all-in-all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Anonymous said...

Not exactly the most subtle thing I've ever seen, but hilarious. Shearman was the perfect hack to direct this, it plays like an old episode of the Benny Hill show. The cast is perfect.

Stan said...

I admit up front I know several people in the cast and crew of this show, but the fact that it is as polished as it is is something of miracle. I have been told by several cast and crew members (including some principals and several Lakewood "regulars") that it was the most disorganized rehearsal process they had ever been through, due to Alan Shearman not really grasping the technical elements of what staging something this big entails. I know that both Erin Shannon and Geoff Kaufmann picked up a lot of slack (again heard from the cast directly). I saw the show last night and it seemed to be "settling in." Some of the choreography was too busy and the dancers seemed unsure of their movements, but it was overall a great night of theater.

Anonymous said...

Super Super Show! So funny, so kitchy, with amazing costumes. The costumes alone are worth the price of admission. While the leads are great (Ulla - incredible!), the supporting cast really made the show for me. Regarding the music, I enjoyed the orchestra, but kept wondering when its presence was going to match the rest of the cast . But once I saw that there were only 6 musicians listed, I thought that they put up a good fight. It's strange that a show this big would have such a small orchestra, but I guess that's an issue with the producers of the show (ha! no pun intended) and not the music director. But, again, completely great show! One of the most enjoyable nights at the theatre I've had in a lng time!

Anonymous said...

Saw the show last night, had a great time. This is probably just my life as a former dancer showing through, but has anyone else noticed how the choreographer Erin puts herself center stage and/or first in every routine? Made me laugh after a while.

Anonymous said...

Well, usually the tallest and best dancers are put in the center of the line... at least thats how literally every other show I've seen does it...

As dance captain of the show, I know we worked hard to give everyone front and center time.

Anonymous said...

Also, you may have noticed, she was center in the number she did NOT choreograph as well...

Anonymous said...

8:50:

You seem to imply some sort of egotistical behaviour on the part of "Choreographer Erin."

You clearly have not met her.

kirsten said...

i was surprised to read the comment about erin shannon putting herself center stage. i just saw the show last night and i know probably half the cast including erin. i have worked with her as a choreographer and have first-hand experience with how she works. i, myself, was equally surprised, but it was at how erin seemed to put herself in the back row or off to the side in almost every number. i know erin as an amazingly talented individual who is extremely modest about her talent and also interested in making everyone look good. sometimes a person's talent may pull them center stage, sometimes it is their character, a solo, etc. however, sometimes an overall stage picture is what is important to a choreographer or a director. this often takes height into consideration. i wouldn't blame the choreographer for "putting herself center stage" for something that is to create a picture, especially if they happen to be one of the tallest individuals. and from what i remember, i didn't even see that happen often, or at all. and as a 'former dancer', i would have thought this would have been realized.

Anonymous said...

Taking on the wrong choreographer, dude.

Go spread your nastiness somewhere else.

Lisamarie said...

I haven't seen the show yet, but I have worked with Erin Shannon, and enjoyed her work from an audience perspective as well. Not only is she modest and generous as a dancer and choreographer, she's also magic on stage. Her presence and energy radiate. Could it be that she seemed front and center simply because the audience just can't take their eyes off of her? She's magnetic.

I can't wait to see the show!

Anonymous said...

ROTFLMAO at all these over the top responses to what seems to me (as an outsider) as a pretty innocent observation. Is there a Dancer Mafia in town out to protect the Kingpin (or Queenpin, as it were?). Sometimes when you respond so virulently to a minor comment you give it more import than it ever would have had in the first place. Everything posted here is just opinion, people, it's nothing to get too excited about, for good or bad.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe some people just don't like seeing a friend get hurt when someone lets loose with a vicious and unfounded attack.

Anonymous said...

Hm.

If there's a dance queenpin in this town its probably Amy Palomino.

Who frequently puts herself front and center, too. Not undeservedly, either.

Anonymous said...

Vicious, unfounded attack? You people are hilarious! You'd better never come to a real theater town. If you think someone saying something like "did anyone else notice..." and then that person makes a pretty neutral observation (which you can disagree with if you want), that is not a vicious attack. Try coming to an Equity audition in NYC if you want vicious attacks, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Been to Equity Auditions in NYC.

They're nothing compared to anonymous Followspot commenters.

Seriously.

People in NYC get a bad rap. They're actually quite polite, generally.

Rick Warren said...

Ah yes, visciousness - THAT'S why I went into theater! thanks for the tip about Equity and NY! Can't WAIT to get there!
Regarding original choreographer comment:
1 - to answer your "question" - no, probably no one else noticed that, because it didn't happen. Maybe THAT'S why so many people have responded to the "innocent observation".
2 - Also, not sure how you can consider a comment "minor" when its the ONLY comment in the post.
3 - regarding "viciousness": smiling while you slowly cut someone with a butter knife is just as vicious as a quick stab with a steak knife - maybe more so.
4 - and finally - so its okay to express an "opinion" (masquerading as an "innocent observation"), but not okay to respond to it? "Mafia"? "Queenpin"? Sounds like you're the one over-reacting. At least most of the people who responded had actual knowledge and experience working with Erin (as have I).

Anonymous said...

I just want to clarify something--I am not the original poster of this "vicious" comment. I'm someone who came to see what people were saying about the show, since I have tickets for this weekend. I made the "ROTFLMAO" and "hilarious" comments, because I am a retired pro from NYC who finds this a really funny tempest in a teapot. I found the original "vicious" comment pretty tame, frankly--your mileage may vary. I see that comment starting with a big "thumbs up" for the show, and then just a passing observation which didn't strike me as "vicious" or "cutting"--kind of wry, if anything. And then there are all these emotionally overwrought reactions which just have me picturing this choreographer (whom I have never met) standing over her minions with a whip demanding they defend her. Like I said in my first post--sometimes you end up giving the "criticism" (which I don't even think was that critical, frankly) more validity by responding so ardently to it. Just let it go and no one will care. As it is, it's the bulk of what's here now, which means a lot of people coming here are going to now pay sole attention to this aspect of the show when they see it.

Re: the comment about Equity in NYC. Yes, of course, everyone is perfectly "polite" at auditions--until you leave, LOL.

Anonymous said...

There is a "thou dost protest too much" feeling here.

That being said, let's get back to the show. It is a GREAT show! Spread the word!

Anonymous said...

can we just get back to talking about the actual show. this is all a bit ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It's a frighteningly negative view of humanity that assumes the only reason someone would speak to another person's defense is because they are being forced to out of fear or intimidation.

Rick said...

Was "hack" really the word you were looking for regarding Shearman? It sound like you liked the show and the cast, both of which would be a result of his direction. Generally "hack" is viewed as a bad thing.
(And for the record neither the director or the choreographer were "standing over me with a whip" to write this. Erin is probably horrified that so much was made of it as well.)
That said, I think maybe you're (anonymous one from NY) experience of NY has left you with, as someone else here put it, a "frighteningly negative view of humanity" (or at least of theater people). Sometimes people respond to comments (vicious or not) just to set the record straight.

Clara Hatfield said...

I think that this show is one of the best shows that Lakewood has produced. I love the little touches, like the wiener. The choreography was very fantastic, along with all of the costumes. I especially loved the little old ladies... "hold me...touch me!"

Travis Bickle said...

Maybe "anonymous" thinks Alan Shearman is a Taxi Driver?

Anonymous said...

Costumes were rented.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't understand the import of the comment "Costumes were rented." Does that make a difference to the show?

Anonymous said...

Yes, please--let's have another round of commentary about this "vicious" post about the costumes being rented. Rick, you're first. :)

Anonymous said...

Saw the show this evening. To my mind and ears, easily the most impressive thing Lakewood has ever mounted (maybe even by a longshot), and one of the best things I've seen in Portland ever. Cast is perfection, costumes (rented or otherwise) magnificent, choreography superb and pit band that sounds huge (frankly couldn't believe there were only 6 people, which I just read here and confirmed in my program). Fantastic work by everyone involved, and this cast and crew should be very proud of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Well, six people and a recording....

Cindy said...

As a member of the pit band, I'd like to clarify what is meant by "6 people and a recording" in the previous post. Jeffrey Kauffman, our very talented musical director, created pre-records to enhance and augment the sound on some of the big production numbers. At the time they were recorded, the pit band consisted of only 4 musicians. We've since been able to add a wind player and a brass player, making the ensemble much richer. The pre-records were painstakingly created by Jeffrey, track by track, to include more instruments in the mix and give the big numbers the full sound they so badly need. To our credit, the musicians play during every pre-record giving the added layer of live sound. As you can tell from previous posts, this is a huge show with over 24 musical numbers, not to mention the amount of incidental and scene change music. The pre-recorded tracks are only used during 5 of those numbers and I think you'd actually have trouble telling which 5 they are. My colleagues are very talented, hard working musicians and I'd hate for anyone to get the impression that the show is using some pre-purchased recording instead of relying on live musicians. There was a great thread a few months back about the value of using live musicians versus recordings. If you come to the show, I think you'll be happy with what you hear!

Anonymous said...

In the same vein as the "costumes were rented" comment, how does "6 people and a recording" have relevance to the quality of the show? Does it impact the audience's enjoyment of the production somehow?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't. You see, people can so easily spit out negative criticism easier than they can dish out positive critiques. Only because it's so easy to sit behind a computer and do this anonymously. However, when push comes to shove these negative commenters are the one's are bitter because that aren't getting casted while the ones who can find both the positive and negative are people who have worked professionally and diligently. So we can ignore the people who think Erin and Amy are egomaniacs, and the people who have to add side comments such as "oh they costumes were rented" or "there's a cd playing" because their unnecessary comments stem from bitterness. Am I wrong?

I loved this show. Great work all around.

Anonymous said...

If, as seen in so many posts, one can be disheartened when out of town actors are used instead of locals then perhaps the quibble about rented costumes stems from an appreciation of the work of local costume designers and stitchers. On the other hand, there are local playwrights who could complain about the rented script.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone was just trying to explain why the band sounded so "full" when there were only six people?

Maybe it wasn't intended as a slight at all?

Maybe.

Anonymous said...

I do not think the band sounded full. It sounded fake. While you couldn't really tell when all the voices were singing, when they weren't...it sounded like a cell phone ring tone. Maybe it was a good choice by the music director, but I for one, did not expect to hear obvious and over-used synth at a show like The Producers.

Anonymous said...

The terrible synthesized violin during Bialystock's first number was the worst. Could Lakewood not find a single violinist in Portland willing to work for cheap for a walk-on bit?

Anonymous said...

Well, get used to it. You're going to see less and less live musicians. When musical producers accept (whether by choice or by financial concerns) synthesized sounds instead of live musicians, like has happened more and more in the recent past, you'll have those crappy synth sounds. As somebody who dabbles in MIDI, I have rarely found a synth sound that sounds as natural a live instrument - though some sounds (bassoon, clarinet, pizz. strings)are better than others (violin, saxophone, oboe).

Anonymous said...

It couldn't be any worse than the drum machine in Into the Woods. :) Seriously, I don't think there's a show in Portland that I've ever seen that doesn't use at least one synth/keyboard. I know for a fact that some bus & truck versions of the Producers use one or two synths and that's it.

followspot said...

Not to give anyone ideas, but here are two articles about a man in the UK who sued a theatre company for using canned music...and won:

The Guardian

TimesOnline

Anonymous said...

How many times does it have to be posted here--there are six LIVE musicians in the pit, more or less what Lakewood usually has. That lawsuit was over NO live musicians. You people are unbelievable.

followspot said...

True - but I thought it was interesting in the minor thread re the trend towards taped musical theatre.

Anonymous said...

I assume by "when all the voices were singing" you mean various instruments and/or synth sounds of instruments? I'm not a professional musician, so perhaps "singing" is commonly used to refer to instruments, but I when I read "voices" and "singing" in the same line I thought at first you were referring to the actors. If so, you are mistaken: ALL of the human voices in the show are live (except for one pre-recorded line by Mel Brooks, which is not sung).

Anonymous said...

anon 7/20 @ 2:29 - That's not the worst. Apparently, the two guys playing the producers aren't really broadway producers! And the German guy isn't even German! My God, couldn't they find ONE German in all of Portland? Why oh why must they use actors for all the roles? I guess if my main concern in seeing a 3 hour musical is how realistic the violin sound is during a "walk-on bit" I'll just have to stay home and listen to that part of the Broadway CD over and over. Damn...

Beth said...

I'm frankly amazed to read some of the comments here. Just got back from one of the most enjoyable evenings I have ever spent at Portland theatre. And let me just say my mother was in the ensemble of such classic shows as The Pajama Game on Broadway, so I grew up around musicals and some of these comments here are absurd, I have to wonder what the agenda is. This is a top flight production all the way, with hilarious performances (Tim Smith and Joseph Klei were my favorites, but everyone is great), fantastic sets and costumes, and a very sharp orchestra. All of the naysayers seem to be grinding major axes for one reason or another, methinks they may have auditoned and not gotten a part. Take it from someone who loves musicals, grew up backstage on Broadway--this is a wonderful production.

Anonymous said...

Beth, I couldn't agree more and plan on seeing the show a second time. I only wish The producers had a bigger space to accomodate the elaborate sets. I was mometarily taken out of the story when set changes revealed the workings at the back of the theater. Bravo to the Lakewood for doing this up right with an amazing cast.

Anonymous said...

I went to see Lakewood's production of "The Producers" a few days ago and I have to say that, for the most part, I was very entertained for a good deal of the evening. "Into the Woods" had been the first production I had seen at Lakewood and I am embarrassed to admit that I walked out at intermission because I had been so dissapointed with the first act. But "Producers" proved to be an enjoyable rebound experience for me. I will combine all of my "needs improvement" criticisms by saying that the scenery and the lighting were terrible in this production and did not improve at all from "Into the Woods". But I felt the performances were fun. And even though some of the shtick seemed to come directly from the movie, I laughed the second time around anyway. I would recommend seeing it if you would like to hear some good music and have a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

THis is a non union semi professional production of THE PRODUCERS that is pretty good for what it is...a non union semi professional production of THE PRODUCERS. Let's not get carried away with the level of talent represented on stage either way because once again this is a non union, semi professional production of THE PRODUCERS. If people enjoyed that's great but it still is what it is...you get the point.

Anonymous said...

So...is this a professional production? And is it union? Just curious. Couldn't find any subtle clues on here.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/5 11:43: please illuminate for all of us just where in Portland you see a "professional union" (to use your verbiage) musical. Typically Broadway Rose doles out maybe one or two Equity contracts, PCS about the same, with the rest of the cast being non union. I defy you to find a more "professional" (in any sense of the word) actor than Jay Pevney. As someone who goes back to the days of Portland Civic and Portland Rep, I can tell you Equity contracts in this city (for musicals) have always been few and far between.

Anonymous said...

And as long as we're off topic ... I'd like to remind folks that "union" only ensures quality working conditions, not quality productions

Anonymous said...

well, PCS is an equity house (lort b, I believe), and they hire quite a few equity actors, but there are only so many in the city. But equity status doesn't have much to do with how "professional" a theater is.

Anonymous said...

Your premise that a show is not professional because it is not equity is false.

False false false.

Anonymous said...

You all keep telling yourself that non-union productions are better than union productions. This just tells me that you've either never performed in a full equity production or that you've never left Portland...this is the kind of thinking that keeps portland stuck in the dark ages as far as theatre is concerned. Jay Pevney is a fine performer as is non-union. The reason he's non union because if he was he wouldn't get hired because Portland is a anti union theatre town. Plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I am the audience member who wrote the critique on 8/1/09 and had left at the end of the first Act of "Into the Woods" but had an enjoyable rebound experience with "the Producers". Someone left a comment directly after mine and tried to write off my entire critique by saying that this was a non union semi-proffessional production and quote: "Let's not get carried away with the level of talent represented on stage either way". And then the following comments tried to tear down that comment with commentary about the union and professional status in the portland theatre area. I just wanted to say that I am new to this idea of blogging as a method of critiquing a show but I tried it because I thought it might be nice to contribute my own thoughts on a production that I paid to see. I don't really care what kind of company this is. Professional, semi-professional, non-union, union - words and phrases used by those who want to elevate themselves above their contemporaries in the pay and prestige scale. I went to see a story being told and did not feel that the story was told very well, so I said so. Money and titles don't dictate whether a theatre is going to tell a story well. It only dictates the limits of their resources, not their creativity. Telling me that I have to remember a company is such and such and so and so and it is what it is is no excuse for a poor production. So trying to write off someone's opinion with "you just don't understand what you're seeing and you shouldn't expect much" is not only immature, but blatently defensive - something I would expect from someone who probably had a few bad experiences with that company and doesn't want to admit to themselves that they really aren't as high and mighty as they think they are. Best of luck with your commentary.

Anonymous said...

Agreed...Equity is a union for ACTORS and Stage Managers to protect their rights to good working conditions, good pay, and representation. Equity does not equal "Good Acting" and Non equity does not equal "Bad". There are positive and negatives qualities to being union and being non union...but when you go see a show...let it all go. A show will not improve by all the actors being equity...honestly, theatres here cannot afford all equity productions..would you like to see Ticket sales go up to Broadway prices?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/6 2:39: no one here is saying non-union is better than union. You are insisting that union *is* better than non-union, which is simply untrue. FYI, I have worked in Equity houses across the country. Your premise is simply false.

Anonymous said...

audience members rarely post here..it mainly industry people. Broadway Rose's actors and management(and "friends" of management do) and are many times very pompous and cruel in there comments. Make it stop!

Anonymous said...

back to the show...

Anonymous said...

I saw the show closing matinée, and it was good, not great, but good.

Tim, Joey, Todd and Sarah Catherine were great, the chorus did ok. The set was amateur looking, and I've seen better sets at high school productions. The band was horrible, you can tell this was not an Alan Lytle orchestra.

All in all I had a nice time, but the bad out weighed the good. Come on Lakewood your shows are starting to slide.

Anonymous said...

I was there too, evidently saw a completely different show. This was my third time, came with 2 friends, each back for their second. Easily the best thing Lakewood has ever done, hands down. Jay was off today--lots of dropped lines, especially in the songs, was amazed the "horrible" band (which I thought sounded absolutely fantastic, at least as good if not better than any of Lytle's work there) could keep up with him. Tim was the hilarious highlight for me. The fact that this has been a huge hit for Lakewood is obviously bringing out the vipers from the other companies--go away, we don't want you here.

Anonymous said...

Saw the show today as well--only complaint--whoever was running sound should be shot, or at least forced to listen to the feedback they foisted off on us. I can't believe Dan Hallberg could have been there today, probably one of his minions, but a really shoddy job. Otherwise, the show was fantastic, no complaints.

Anonymous said...

I saw the show twice.

Sitting in the audience the second time, with a friend, he asked if the show was miked.

I said "I don't think so. I never noticed any problems with the mikes, and I generally hate miked shows because they are always done so badly."

Then the show started, and it was, of course, miked. But you wouldn't know it. The sound was well run, and no snafus at all, either time I saw it.

I still wish local actors would learn to project, but if you must mike a show, do it like this.

Anonymous said...

Were you there the closing performance? The feedback was so bad the Jay Pevney himself reacted to it at one point and made a little "Johnny Carson" nasal 'wooo' out to the audience. If you weren't there, I can't see why you would argue that it happened--everyone was talking about it, it was incredibly painful (like physically painful). I'm sure it was probably even worse for the actors.

Anonymous said...

Actors seek love and approval -- this is a clinical fact.
This site is blogged primarily, I would think, by actors.
Yet it is astoundingly, at times despicably, unloving in its tone.
There is a saying:
"Criticism without compassion is brutal"
I don't think that most Portland actors would describe themselves as brutal.
Yet, in their hands a keyboard becomes a weapon.
Why?
My personal theory is that there are two reasons for all the hateful spouting.
First. They are not getting enough love.
Second: Even worse, they see someone else getting more love than they themselves think is correct.
So they feel compelled to correct the world view, according to them.

So out come the fangs and what is the result?
Instead of compassionate criticism being propagated, it is snarly and hurtful, which in turn and quite naturally breeds more of the same in a sad, deplorable and pathetic cycle.

There is another saying:
Words are like arrows, once released they strike their mark.
Guard your words well, for one day they may come back and strike you down.

I get it. Being cleverly brutal is fun!
But it is never the right choice.
Never. Ever.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree, though I would add that these incredibly nasty comments were also aimed at several people behind the scenes. Sad, really, as the show was pretty incredible on all levels as far as I was concerned.

Anonymous said...

INSULTS:
the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.

JEALOUSLY:
the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.

Anonymous said...

He has the right to criticize, who has the heat to help.
-- Abraham Lincoln

Anonymous said...

ok, it's "heart" not heat.

Anonymous said...

This site has outlived its usefulness. It is a detriment to the Portland Theater community.

Shut it down already.

Anonymous said...

ok is still think we need a general topic mail box on this site.

larry gelbart died yesterday.
he wrote mash, tootsie and forum.

i can remember auditioning for him for a production of sly fox.

i didn't get the part but i'll always remember his warm smile.

goodbye larry.

and thanks.

heaven is a funnier place today.

Anonymous said...

yes an off topic thread would be good.

here are two of my favorite quotes about shows you don't really want to see:
"It has a huge potential for horrible"
and
"The is no shame is fearing that which may suck"

Anonymous said...

This site has outlived it's credibility and usefullness?
Ya think?
Honey, that ship done sailed many, many moons ago.
The wind done gone, baby.