‘The Producers’

“When you’ve got, flaunt it,” croons blonde bombshell Ulla as she prances through her audition. Creator Mel Brooks has taken this idiom to heart, leading “The Producers” from the big screen to the stage and back.

When Max Bialystock’s latest production is a flop, he is convinced that his days as “The King of Broadway” are over. Geeky accountant Leo Bloom comes to work on Max’s books and innocently remarks on the value of a failure. He reasons that if Max raises more money than needed and puts on a cheap show, he can pocket the difference. Inspired, Max convinces Leo to join him in producing the greatest Broadway flop (“We Can Do It”). After pouring over horrible scripts, the two finally settle on Franz Liebkind’s “Springtime For Hitler.” The Nazi sympathizer and pigeon enthusiast is thrilled to see his work realized, but agrees only after Max and Leo join in Hitler’s favorite dance, “Der Guten Hop Clop.”

Franz is cast as Hitler under the supervision of an eccentric director, Roger DeBris. A beautiful, but inept, Swedish secretary, Ulla, is hired and cast as well. Max seduces little old ladies out of their bank accounts, and Ulla seduces Leo out of his obsessive compulsive behaviors. Everything seems to be going well for Bialystock and Bloom: too well when their flop turns out to be a hit, leaving them to wonder “Where Did We Go Right?”

Brooks decided to bring his 1968 movie to the stage in 2000 with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick as the scheming producers. Their cast and crew won 11 Tony Awards, the most ever given to a single production. The duo reprised their role for the 2005 movie and welcomed Uma Thurman as their scintillating secretary. Will Ferrell and Gary Beach (also in the current Broadway cast) provided the eccentric Franz and the mostly diva director Roger DeBris.

Many current cast members appeared in the movie, including present Max Bialystock, John Treacy Egan and “Queer Eye” consultant Jai Rodriguez. Egan’s performance is so close to Lane’s performance that he borders on imitation, but it never gets old. Hunter Foster is used to playing meek leads after surviving a man-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” (as Seymour), and high school cliques in Grease (as Roger). His Bloom is twitching and endearing, a perfect match for Angie Schworer’s sultry but sweet Ulla. Lane and Broderick can be seen as Oscar and Felix in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.