by Ellie Burr-Lonnen
This year's PGS production, Mel Brooks' 'The Producers', was simply outstanding. On opening night, the theatre was packed, yet the actors showed no nerves. In fact, the straight faces they managed to keep when delivering their often outrageous lines truly showed that there are many PGS pupils who should go on to perform on Broadway!
Tim MacBain and James Gulliford were wonderful as the two lead characters, the conniving Bialystock and the nervous Bloom. Tim's portrayal of an ageing producer hoping to make money from a flop was hilarious and James brought out both the humour and the pathos in his accountant/wannabe producer, with the 'little blue blanket' helping to suggest his anxiety.
Two of the best performances came from Ben Schofield and Maddy Shand as flamboyant director Roger de Bris and his "Mummy", not least with their fantastic song and dance number "Keep it Gay!". Ben pulled off the dress and heels nicely, and did indeed bear an uncanny resemblance to the Chrysler Building, while Maddy was a superbly dramatic mother. Ben Willcocks gave a fantastically unrestrained performance as Franz, the insane writer of 'Springtime for (Adolf Elizabeth) Hitler', delivering his lines in a brilliantly comic German accent. I thought that the meeting between Franz, the producers and the four little pigeons in a cage was one of the funniest scenes in the whole play.
Emma Read as Ula, a Marilyn-Monro-esque character, proved that she had the best singing voice of all the actors, particularly in her performance of "That Face" with James Gulliford. The orchestra, conducted by Mr Gladstone, did an amazing job, playing each piece perfectly, conveying drama, comedy and romance at breakneck speed. The choreography throughout the play was extraordinary.
There was also some admirable scene-stealing by actors in minor roles, for example Charlie Albuery as the tyrannical boss and Douglas Mileham as everything from a Nazi pigeon to failed auditionee Donald Dinsdale. Jessamie Waldon-Day also deserves special mention for her accomplished performance as 'Hold Me, Tickle Me', one of Bialystock's Little Old Ladies, managing to convey decrepitude and dexterity simultaneously. Indeed, all of the little old ladies, in their matching wigs and handbags, were excellent; their dance routine with the zimmer frames was absolutely hilarious.
In fact, there was not a weak link in the whole cast; the timing and delivery of every actor was excellent. Furthermore, all of the stage crew seamlessly constructed and deconstructed the multiple sets needed in just a few seconds so that the play's fast-flowing comic momentum was never interrupted. Huge congratulations to everyone involved behind the scenes, including Mrs Whittaker, who created the astounding costumes for the performance, including dancing Nazis, caged pigeons, New York cops and Ben Schofield's dress.
'The Producers' may not have been as well known as 'Annie' or 'The Wizard of Oz', however it is certainly the most memorable PGS production to date and much of the credit must go to Mr McCrohon, the Director in Residence, and Ms Filho, the Head of Drama, their achievement all the more impressive considering that they only joined the school in September. I can only imagine what the future holds. I just hope the PGS production next year can live up to 'The Producers'.
If didn't go to see 'The Producers', you definitely missed out --- but don't worry: the video is available from the Drama department.
See also Louisa Stark's look at 'The Producers' behind the scenes.
All photographs taken by Chris Reed