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Published: Thursday, 6/18/2009

Croswell opens summer series with 'The Producers'

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

First it was a movie that won an Academy Award. Then it became a stage musical that won 12 Tony Awards, then it became a movie again.

It is Mel Brooks' The Producers, which opens tomorrow in Adrian's Croswell Opera House as the first of three shows in the summer musical series.

A monster hit on Broadway and on several national tours, The Producers was recently released for production by local troupes "We are definitely among the first community theaters to stage the play," said director Mark DiPietro in a telephone interview this week.

"Larry got the rights and called me right away. How can you turn down Mel Brooks, no matter how daunting the show?" he said, referring to Croswell artistic director Larry Stotz.

And the show can be daunting. There's a cast of 41, some of whom need to change costumes two and three times, and almost every scene requires a new set.

"Our backstage area isn't that big, and we've got to fight to stay organized," DiPietro said, adding that the crew refers to all the set changes as a theatrical game of Tetris.

The Producers is the tale of Max Bialystock, a theatrical producer, and Leo Bloom, his accountant, who come up with a scheme to get rich by overselling interests in what is sure to be a Broadway flop. Unfortunately for them, the show is a hit.

DiPietro's cast is led by Steve Antalek as Max and Patrick Toth as Leo.

"Steve's been in most of my shows, just in smaller parts, and Patrick is a former student of mine. He's a chameleon," disappearing into roles in shows as diverse as Oliver, The Secret Garden, and The Three Musketeers, DiPietro said.

Other key members of the cast are Lucy Hagedorn as Ulla, Jim Craig as Roger DeBris, Stephen Smith as Franz Liebkind, and Jesse Montie as Carmen Ghia.

In typical Mel Brooks fashion, DiPietro said, the show pokes fun at just about every group, from homosexuals and Nazis to actors and sex-starved little old ladies. Off-color jokes and sexual innuendo are plentiful amid all the laughs, and DiPietro said he'd give the show a rating of PG-13.

"The Producers" opens tomorrow in the Croswell Opera House, 129 East Maumee St., Adrian. Performances will be 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through June 28. Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors and students, and $16 for youngsters ages 12 and younger, with upper-balcony discounts available. Information: 517-264-7469 or croswell.org.

w The choir of St. Michael's in the Hills, 4718 Brittany Rd., will present Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta Trial by Jury at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youngsters ages 12 and younger. Information: 419-531-1616.

w All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a play based on the writings of best-selling author Robert Fulghum, will be presented at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday in Blessed John the XXIII Life Center, 24250 Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg. Tickets, $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and students, are available at the church office or at the door. Information: 419-874-6502.

•The Detroit-based Parables Entertainment presents the romantic drama Unequally Yoked at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St., Maumee. The plot revolves around a church choir member who is tired of waiting for her buddy to become her suitor. Tickets are $20 in advance from gospelplay.net.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6130.



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