SALEM - Mel Brooks' hit musical-comedy "The Producers" hits the Salem Community Theatre (SCT) stage Aug. 1-10 with all of its outrageous characters and in-your-face comedy.
Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays Aug.1-10.
Ticket are $14 for adults, $10 for ages 62 and up) and $8 for students. Reserved seating is available by calling 330-332-9688.
This highly-anticipated production, the first ever to be staged in this area, features a talented cast of 26 regional actors, all of whom were attracted to the show because of its inherent reputation and wealth of comedic opportunities. In addition, the director for the production, Tyler Stouffer, literally "grew up" on Salem's stage, and took on the production as his directorial debut.
Fans of Mel Brooks will be familiar with the history and plot of "The Producers," which was originally produced as a film in 1968 starring Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. The story is simple: a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer conspires to bilk desperate "little old ladies" out of millions of dollars, with the help of his new friend, an accountant-turned-producer. Everything is going according to plan until what was selected to be the worst show in history (and with the worst director) becomes a smash hit.
When Brooks was persuaded to turn his movie into a stage musical, he wrote the songs himself, and then co-wrote the book for the show with Thomas Meehan. The show opened on Broadway in 2001, garnering three Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards plus a Grammy Award for the sound track. After that success, a new movie was produced in 2005 based on the musical, including the Broadway show's stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
SCT's production of the Broadway musical offers up a hilarious pairing of leads: the capable stage veteran Donny Wolford as Leo Bloom (the neurotic accountant) with SCT newcomer Chuck Peery, playing the washed-up producer Max Bialystock. Hailing from Medina, this production will mark Peery's first SCT appearance. Although having never met, the two actors have struck up an immediate chemistry on the stage, and one that will leave the audience howling.
Also featured in the cast are Youngstown's David El-Hatten as the eccentric director Roger Debris; YSU musical theatre major Matthew Malloy as his assistant Carmen Ghia; and, Boardman's Christopher Hager as Franz Liebkind - last appearing in SCT's "Life Could Be A Dream," the writer of what was supposed to be the horrible stage play "Springtime for Hitler."
Also a YSU musical theatre major, Kathie Steeb stars as Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yonsen Tallen-Hallen Svaden-Svanson, the saucy Swedish secretary for the unscrupulous-duo. Steeb is no stranger to the Salem stage, participating in many SCT stage productions beginning when she was just 10 years old.
The cast of "The Producers" is filled with talented singers and dancers, and bring to life the shows hilarious and sometimes irreverent musical numbers like "Der Guten Tag Hop Clop," "Along Came Bialy," "Keep It Gay," and, of course, the show-within-a-show's title song, "Springtime for Hitler."
Stouffer has been performing on the SCT stage since 2002 and has been performing in the area since 2000. In addition to his new-found interest in directing, he has acted regionally in such roles as Edna Turnblad (Hairspray), Beast (Disney's Beauty and the Beast), Don Lockwood (Singin' in the Rain), and Finch (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying).
A 2012 alumni of Salem High School, Stouffer is currently studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, Calif., majoring in performing arts with a specialization in musical theater. He also recently performed in the debut of a new play, 'My Dirty Little Secret' as part of the Hollywood Fringe Performing Arts Festival in Los Angeles.
Because he is so passionate about this project ("The Producers" is his favorite Broadway show) he decided he just had to come back to Ohio from California to direct it.
Along with performing, he has also served in the area as a stage manager, assistant director, assistant music director, scenic designer, choreographer, lighting designer, crew chief, and crew-member, all of which has trained him perfectly for this opportunity as director.
"Tyler's talent, passion for theatre and preparation for this show have been truly impressive," said SCT managing director Gary Kekel. "Those qualities, in addition to his long history here at SCT, made him the perfect choice to direct this incredible production, and he's brought out the best in a superb cast."