PUBLISHED: 18:25 06 May 2009 | UPDATED: 17:16 16 August 2010
WHEN Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (DAODS) brought Mel Brooks musical The Producers to the Orchard Theatre recently,
WHEN Dartford Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (DAODS) brought Mel Brooks' musical The Producers to the Orchard Theatre recently, it was only the seventh time this hit show had been performed by amateurs in the UK, writes Mark Campbell.
The Producers began life as a 1968 movie starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.
Its story of a terrible Nazi musical became a musical itself decades later when a Broadway version ran for more than 2,000 performances.
Inevitably a Hollywood film version followed, taking the phenomenon full circle. And now, until the advent of another professional tour, it's up to amateur operatic groups up and down the country to keep the (Nazi) flag flying. And DAODS managed the task brilliantly. Directed by David Maun, with musical direction by Christine Diggens and choreography by Laura Gillham, this was a loud, proud show with larger-than-life performances and flawlessly delivered production numbers.
Gifted with professionally sourced sets and costumes, and a professional orchestra, it is the performers themselves who become key to the show's success. And happily, the standard of the whole cast - from main players down - was absolutely first class. Dave Hughes and Paul Farlie raced along with magnificent energy and old-fashioned chutzpah as the producers themselves, with Dave Kerry, John Woodley, Michael Gawadzyn and Amanda Bailey offering up hilarious caricatures along the way. Springtime for Hitler is, of course, the moment everyone was waiting for. DAODS' version was a grand spectacle of outrageous campery, with enough technical wizardry to rival those old Busby Berkeley dance routines of the 1930s. Only the Zimmer-frame tap dance of Leave it to Bialy or The King of Old Broadway with its panoply of musical theatre clichés came close to usurping this hilarious slice of Swastika-adorned schtick.
Apart from the nonsense of a failed musical making money (the show's raison d'etre) and the feeling that Brooks and co-author Thomas Meehan don't know how to end it, DAODS' The Producers was the complete antithesis of a failure on every level.
* The next DAODS show will be Thoroughly Modern Millie in October, while the next production at the Orchard Theatre is Dreamboats and Petticoats from 11-16 May. Tickets: 01322 220000.