Monday, January 16, 2006

Geoff Collins Sees The Producers - At the Right Price!

The following article is for the benefit of our readers who may have become jaded and cynical by the fact that all our material so far has dealt with the ancient, dusty comedy of people who have long since departed this mortal coil. Not true!

However, before we start, you need to know that this article has been edited for language. We can't have our lovely Third Banana site littered with the kind of obscenities you'd find in the films of [momentary pause for a brief shudder] Adam Sandler.

You also need to know, for the purposes of the following narrative, that Cineworld in Milton Keynes, a cinema complex in sleepy Middle England, has half-price tickets on Tuesdays. Thrilling, isn't it? But maybe not as thrilling as the prospect of seeing Nathan Lane [my God! - he's writing about someone who's still alive!] in the stage version of The Producers, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Ivy and I had booked tickets for the Christmas Eve 2004 matinee, the last show before Christmas - and the only show we could get any tickets for - and we eagerly awaited this rare chance to see the great comedian in action. Sadly, it was not to be. When we arrived at the theatre, we saw the dreaded, all-too-familiar A4 sheet sellotaped to the door :

Due to the indisposition of Nathan Lane, at this performance the role of Max Bialystock will be played by Cory English.

My initial reaction was, I'm afraid to say, not charitable. "Oh dear" I said, "it seems that Mr. Lane has returned to New York for Christmas!" [Don't forget, this has been edited for language] Other theatregoers in the lobby were also grumbling along similar, if less profane, lines, and it was only when a charming young lady who sold us the programme pointed out that Mr. Lane had slipped a couple of discs in his back that we became more favourably inclined towards Mr. English. Who would want to be in his shoes at such a time? Two thousand people had turned up, expecting to see Nathan Lane. It made us realise that an understudy, especially if he's understudying a world-class comedian, has the hardest job in the world. If anything, he has to be better, funnier than the absent star. With this in mind, we silently wished him all the best.

It seemed that the entire audience felt this way. And Mr. English didn't disappoint us. He made his entrance, he got his first laugh, everyone relaxed, and he gave a fantastic, hilarious, unforgettable performance. God bless you, Cory English. Understudies are the unsung heroes of show business. Mr. English, with his greasy hair plastered down over a barely-concealed "bald spot" was Max Bialystock: seedy, greedy, conniving - and very, very funny.

The only problem is: we still haven't seen Nathan Lane.

"Tell you what" said Ivy, "when the film comes out, we'll go and see it in Milton Keynes, on a Tuesday, for HALF PRICE!!!"

Again, please bear in mind that this has been edited for language. Sorry, Ivy.

So I'm pleased to report that after more than a year, I can finally say: Mission Accomplished! Last Tuesday, Ivy and I went to Cineworld in Milton Keynes and saw the movie version - for half price; and I'm also delighted to report that it's a treat, full of that overstated Third Banana New York Broadway comedy we all know and love. The dull jockstrap who writes the film reviews in our local paper didn't think much of it, however, although he did concede "the songs are good". Idiot. He probably got bored due to the lack of explosions. Anyway, we loved it... but hold on a minute... something was missing...

What happened to Nathan Lane's opening number?

After the scene establishing that Max's latest show is a flop, the movie cuts abruptly to the bit where Leo bursts in on Max and the sexually-active nonagenarian Hold-Me-Touch-Me in the office. Max's introductory song "The King of Broadway" in which he establishes his character as a once-great impresario who's gone hopelessly to seed, just isn't there. What happened? Was the movie too long? Or is this scene languishing in a dustbin behind Cineworld because the projectionist wanted a longer tea break? We know one man who can answer this question; and it's a good job too, 'cos you'll get nothing from The Producers website. I'm on pay-as-you-go here and the bastard thing takes about two years to load up. I gave up in the end. Feck 'em.

Ivy and I stayed in our seats at Cineworld right to the bitter end because I'd heard there was a post-credit sequence right at the end of the movie that was worth waiting for; and there is. Only four of us saw it that afternoon; all the other unadventurous zombies had long since gone, to continue their life-in-death shopping in the mock-America mall that we know (but don't love) as Milton Keynes. But while we waited, amongst the hundreds of names unravelling before us, one name stood out:

Nick Santa Maria.

Our third Third Banana writer is in the movie, playing one of the accountants in Matthew Broderick's "I Wanna Be a Producer" number. Over to you, Nick. Why was "The King of Broadway" cut out ? It's a classic number; it introduces Nathan Lane's character. Was it filmed? Does it exist? Will it be on the DVD?

Answers, please. Why was it cut out? [This last sentence has been edited for language]

A final thought: if you understand and appreciate The Producers, and consider it, as I do, the best musical comedy you've ever clapped eyes on, then, my friend, this is the website for you. Put us on your Favorites list; we're on your side.

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Blogger Neek said...

Hey Geoff,

First of all I have to comment on the film version of The Producers. Whew...Bletttchhh....arrgghh...Owww...blahhhhh...YUCK! El Stinkaroo from the word go. Susan Stroman directs as if she'd never SEEN a film before, much less DIRECTED one. She managed to acheive a flatness that can only be compared to the ancient early talkies of 1929, and those are at least INTERESTING. Will Ferrell is horrible, as is most of the madly mugging cast. In fact, I heard that Franco and Ciccio found it overplayed.

That said, the reason King of Broadway did not make the film was time, plain and simple. They felt it wasn't necessary. It was filmed, and will more than likely appear on the DVD. For your info, Where Did We Go Right was cut, and so was Franz's opening song, Bavaria.

1:31 PM  

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