Interview: Musicality’s The Producers

Impact Arts caught up with Jon Walker (Director) and Jacob Lloyd (Musical Director) from Musicality’s production of The Producers to talk about their upcoming show and progress behind the scenes.

So, why did you decide to do The Producers?

Jacob: Considering the huge success of last year’s show (The Phantom of the Opera) I wanted a completely contrasting production to highlight the flexibility of the Society. We wanted to provide an opportunity for comedic acting and more extravagant and intricate dancing but still have a show that tested the singing ability and provided for a large cast. For me, the Producers is perfect in that respect; providing plenty of opportunity for both the chorus and the principles to test and, ultimately, showcase their talents come show week.

Jon: We chose The Producers for some pretty mundane reasons as well. It accommodated a large society and the show has a lot of chorus numbers. Although it is a nice break to be able to do a comedy after the run of more serious musicals that Musicality has done.

Can you describe The Producers for those who don’t know the musical?

Jacob: A washed-up Broadway producer teams up with a semi-psychotic accountant with the intention to profit from producing the worst play ever written with the worst director possible. Through making unbreakable oaths with Nazis, hiring a very friendly Director and raising the money from some particularly concupiscent tap-dancing grannies, the fool-proof flop “Springtime for Hitler” may prove otherwise…

Jon: It’s a hilarious musical comedy about two producers who raise a lot of money and try to put on a musical that will flop in order to keep the money they raised. They meet a lot of interesting and exuberant characters along the way as well!

The musical is pretty risqué as musicals go, have you (if so how) changed anything or altered the show in any way to accommodate for this?  

Jacob: Due to licensing restrictions, it was difficult to make any dramatic changes to the show. However, as our target audience mainly consists of students from the University, I’m sure they/we are mature enough to understand the more risqué themes within the musical. Regarding those who live in Nottingham, an age limit of 16+ has been set to ensure that only those mature enough will be able to come see the show.

Jon: I think one of the reasons we chose the show is because it is risqué. The show is funny because we have a wonderful contrast between WWII Germany and American Show Business. So we haven’t changed any of the material too much, just ensured that a depiction of a camp Hitler is exaggerated to show the ridiculousness of the situation.

What’s been the hardest part of the creative process in putting this show on?

Jacob: I thought combining the learning of the music and putting it with dance/direction i.e. singing and dancing at the same time would be the hardest part (as I find that very difficult) but the cast have proven that they are more accomplished at multi-tasking than I am. The hardest part of the creative process would be dealing with absences during rehearsals; as some members have other commitments, and apparently degrees, that meant they have had to miss rehearsals. This meant having to repeat certain parts, but once it was all learnt and put together as a full cast, it really has been impressive.

Jon: Definitely choreographing and directing the number, ‘Springtime for Hitler’. It’s the culmination of the whole musical and it’s essentially a show within a show. So there are a lot of different elements going on; fast-paced costume changes, tap dancing, and even a giant marching swastika (rather risqué). It was tough to ensure that the number was not offensive and that the eventual outcome was a satire of Franz’s (the character responsible for the writing of Springtime for Hitler) portrayal and memory of an artistic Hitler and a satire of the show business scene in the 1950s. It was hard, but a lot of fun and the outcome is very funny.

What’s your favourite part of the show and why? 

Jon: This is a difficult one, there are so many great moments in the show, but I think it would have to be the musical number Along Came Bialy leading into the End of Act 1. We see all the elements that our two Producers worked on come together. It reminds the audience of all the comedic scenes in Act 1. It’s a lovely way to end the first act.

Jacob: Mine would be the piece “’Till Him”. It epitomises the loyalty and underlying Bromance between the Motley pairing, but also musically it’s a contrast to the usual upbeat/punchy songs, taking a reflective and softer approach.

How would you describe your production in three words?

Jacob: Technical. Expressive. Comical

Jon: Classy, Sassy and Gay.

Emma Lawton

‘The Producers’ is on at Nottingham Arts Theatre from Wednesday 11th March until Saturday 14th March. For more information see here.

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