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Broadway play ruffles PC crowd

By Nicholas Sanchez
web posted May 7, 2001

Not too long ago, a friend and colleague of mine - who like me is a Mel Brooks junkie - made the sage remark, "There is no way that Mel Brooks could produce the films that he did in the late 60s and 70s today." This is undoubtedly true.

Witness the commotion that has come about as a result of the release of the Broadway play "The Producers", a remake of Mel Brooks' 1968 movie classic. A lot of people have complained loudly that the play is "insensitive". In fact, Fox News Channel interviewed a Jewish lady who said that she had to leave the play when she saw "all those Nazis on stage."

Actor Matthew Broderick is shown in a publicity photo from the 'The Producers,' a musical by Mel Brooks that opened on Broadway April 19 to rave reviews
Actor Matthew Broderick is shown in a publicity photo from the 'The Producers,' a musical by Mel Brooks that opened on Broadway April 19 to rave reviews

For those of you who are not familiar with "The Producers", it is a satirical look at Broadway. The main character in the movie, Max Bialystock, is a former Broadway bigwig, who, with his glory days behind him after a slew of failures, is forced to spend his days hopping on the knees of rich old women with the hope that they will invest in his plays.

Bialystock then meets Leo Bloom, a nervous young accountant who is sent to review his financial records. As Bloom looks over Bialystock's books and discovers a few "discrepancies", he unwittingly discovers a way in which a producer could become fabulously wealthy by cheating their investors.

The formula goes like this: if a producer were to get several investors to put in a lot of money into a play that was absolutely, positively guaranteed to flop, then the producer could keep the leftover money. Max Bialystock loves the idea and after much handholding and conning, he is able to convince the honest young Bloom to take part in this scheme.

Bialystock and Bloom then go about trying to assemble the worst play, director, and lead actor - ever! After finding a former Nazi who is in hiding in a New York flat who has written a play "Springtime for Hitler", a cross-dressing stage director, and a drugged out lead actor (whose initials are L.S.D.), Bialystock and Bloom think they have a winner.

Opening night comes and their audience is shocked to silence by the opening dance number:

Germany was having trouble, what a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore its former glory
Where, Oh where was he? Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me.
And now it's...

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, here comes the master race

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Winter for Poland and France
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Come on, Germans, go into your dance

I was born in Dusseldorf, and that is why they call me Rolf
Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Goosestep's the new step today
bombs falling from the skies again
Deutschland is on the rise again

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Uboats are sailing once more

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Means that soon we'll be going
We've got to be going
You know we'll be going to WAR!

Not surprisingly, people are stunned by the Nazi soldiers dancing to this snappy tune. And many make a "b-line" for the door. "Talk about bad taste," remarks one disgusted patron.

Of course, Max and Leo assume that the play will fail and they will spend the rest of their lives living off of the million dollars they raised for the play. What they didn't expect is that shortly after the opening song ended, the audience saw the play for what it really was...a lampoon of the Nazis. Sigh. If only real life matched the movies sometimes.

While the release of the Broadway version of "The Producers" is doing phenomenally well - it has made advance ticket sales of $100 million dollars, and is sold out until next year - we are, undoubtedly, going to have to listen to the yapping of the Politically Correct crowd who disdains anything that is genuinely funny.

For his part, Mel Brooks has said, "Hey, I'm Jewish. I can say whatever I want." And I guess with a $100 million in ticket sales he can.

Nicholas Sanchez is the Free Congress Foundation's Director of Development.

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