Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Producers

I think Tony Danza is a likeable celebrity: his endearingly boyish manner seems to say "aw shucks" and his unassuming smile says "gee, thanks for liking me." These qualities might have helped him as decent-hearted milquetoast Leo Bloom in The Producers, but instead he's playing wily and unscrupulous Max Bialystock: he's the wrong flavor of ham. Considering that he's miscast, he makes a valiant effort - no one is going to say he's walking through it, even though he talksings a fair amount of his numbers - but the result is that Roger Bart (as Leo) overpowers him handily. Although the show was in sturdy shape when I saw it last (about fifteen months ago, with John Treacy Egan and Hunter Foster in the leads) it now drags, largely because the central driving relationship between Max and Leo doesn't come off. The "Springtime For Hitler" number, however, remains immune and fool-proof.

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