The musical, The Producers, premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 19, 2001. The musical focuses on two Broadway producers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom. They decide that the only way to make money on Broadway is to stage a flop so that nobody cares for the money. They find a musical valentine written to Adolf Hitler called Springtime for Hitler and con some older women into funding the production. Their plan goes awry when the production is an unexpected hit (Green 321).
At first, the musical was a movie produced by Brooks in 1968 and it was a flop. However, it was soon gathered a cult following, including the British actor, Peter Sellers. It was written that The Producers comedic writing and reading shows a “deliberate appreciation of bad taste” (Symons 26). Unlike other productions that are intentionally offensive, The Producers is written for fun. It is known that “Brooks decides the tastes and definitions of the racists” (Gubar 26). The stage musical got 15 Tony nominations and won 12 awards (Green 321). Brooks’s storylines for his musicals are often thin, but the musicals work because of the vocal and musical arrangements, such as “The King of Broadway,” found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pID2L9jtI2s&list=PLUSRfoOcUe4Z9spJ-YeAmDfN2invE7G2V&index=3. While Brooks’s irreverent humor can both offend and be enjoyed by all, really his collaborators make his musicals into the hits that they have become (Bordman 834).
One of these collaborators is Susan Stroman. Susan Stroman was both the director and choreographer for the Broadway run of The Producers (Green 321). The most important parts of Stroman’s job are “clarifying storyline” and “delineating character” as Stroman stresses through a story about an elderly gentleman who got upset about the comic Hitler appearing on stage during The Producers (Wood 5).
Stroman got her start at Goodspeed Opera House in 1977 and then she went onto Broadway when she performed as Leslie in Whopee! (Bordman 801). It is said that Stroman “came out of nowhere” and that she has “inventive routines” that “dazzle Broadway.” However, after Stroman had choreographed dance routines for Crazy For You, she had trouble finding steady work in New York for almost ten years. However, that changed once Andre Bishop agreed to help Stroman with one of her ideas which became a contemporary dance musical that “upset all the conventional wisdom about musicals,” Contact (Gold 64).
Then, in 2001, it was Stroman’s “imaginative and excessive staging” that helped The Producers become a hit. It was her routines along with Brooks’s storyline that made the musical work. She helped Brooks find the correct formula for his irreverent musicals to work (Bordman 834). Since finding her unique style and having audiences enjoy it, Stroman was approached by Nathan Lane who asked her to be the choreographer and director. This new production gives both aural and visual metaphor (English 133) that answers the question, “Why should the dramatic poet be admired?” and gives relief, not just to the fifth-century Athenian, but also to those who are trying to rebuild their lives after the recent terrorist attacks (128).
Artman, Deborah. “”The Frogs”: A Picasso Twist: Susan Stroman.” The Sondheim Review 11.1 (2004): 21–22. ProQuest. Web. 19 May 2016.
Bordman, Gerald Martin. American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle. New York: Oxford UP, 1978. Print.
English, Mary. “Aristophanes’ Frogs : Brek-kek-kek-kek! on Broadway.” American Journal of Philology 126.1 (2005): 127–33. Web. 19 May 2016.
Gold, Sylviane. “Choreographer Stroman Makes Contact With A Vision In Yellow.” Dance Magazine 74.2 (2000): 64. Academic Source Complete. Web. 19 May 2016.
Gubar, Susan. “RACIAL CAMP in The Producers and Bamboozled.” Film Quarterly 60.2 (2006): 26–37. Web.
Symons, Alex. “An Audience for Mel Brooks’s the Producers: The Avant-garde of the Masses.” Journal of Popular Film and Television 34.1 (2006): 24–32. Web.
Wood, Mark D. “In Focus: Susan Stroman: Reflections from a Golden Talent.” Back Stage — The Performing Arts Weekly 42.27 (2001): 5. ProQuest. Web. 19 May 2016.