"Our leading man was so gay, he nearly flew away! Where did we go right?" Lyrics like this had me laughing the night away down in old Drury Lane with The Producers!

Yes, I'll admit it - at the time of typing this, I have yet to see the film version. *Gasps of horror* But fear not, the dvd safely awaits me under the invisible christmas tree residing in the corner of the living room (I refuse to follow suit of all the shops and put up decorations at the BEGINNING of November!). A few weeks ago, Nathan Lane was suddenly revealed to be taking over from Richard Dreyfuss as Max Bialystock, amidst a wave of lovely bitchy comments and wonderful rumours. Nathan Lane? Nathan Lane!? Nathan Lane!!! After some minutes being in a hysterical state, I calmed and realised I'd never get tickets for it (why am I so negative?). "Ohhhh well...." I sniffed/whined. Earlier this week, just for a laugh, my sister and I walked into the theatre, asked,"Oi! Got any seats in the balcony, guv?" (as only commoners sit up there, twot?) and to our everlasting delight, the guy had some for the front row, 6 people would you believe? And £10 (due to it being a preview)! My luck was fast increasing, and what with us seeing Philip Quast on the street moments before, I was certainly a very happy theatre-goer.

Thursday evening arrived soon enough, after a day of monoprinting and continuous coffee-drinking, which had resulted in a massive headache. My sister and I met up with our friends David and Dean, as well as the lovely newcomer from New York, Jamie (who is a big theatre fan, and who I wanted to be impressed that night!). The other member could sadly not make it, the only positive thing being we could all budge up a seat. Ahhhh, Drury Lane, last in there for Anything Goes, and in very expensive seats, I might add. Naturally, us cheapskates for the balcony were directed through the side entrance, and along a corridor which I originally thought would result in a dead end ("That's what you get!"). Up and up and up we crawled, finally emerging at the lofty heights of the balcony, which actually, were not as high as I'd originally told everyone (isn't it nice to be pleasantly surprised though?). I'd exaggerated so much, that myself and David had brought along binoculars - I'd smuggled them in a great hurry out the house, all for nothing! The view was clear, the fall still dangerous of course (otherwise we'd all be disappointed), but there were sadly no planes flying below, or any cloud cover in sight. No slouching or leaning back though, if you actually wanted to SEE anything! Thankfully there was padding for us all to lean on, though no risk of dozing off, as this position could be deemed highly uncomfortable for some.

Onto the show! Oooh er, I say, this really was a big Broadway production, and I loved every minute of it! Felt like we were being spoilt! Big dance numbers, flashing lights, great scenery, and of course, Nathan Lane (Nathan Laaaane!!!). This may shock you *cough* but I'm rather a big fan of Mr Lane's, and I think I spent half the show thinking 'Nathan Lane!' He most definetely deserves his reputation, what a great performer and entertainer (a handy combo, that)! To be reprising his role from Broadway, hmmm, am sure he was getting paid by the second ;) Great voice, great presence, hilarious to watch (especially liked his reaction to "And how much money do we put into it?"). Everyone says he holds the show together, and yes, he does, but I'd still be upset with the loss of some of the following actors:
Lee Evans(Leo Bloom) really did surprise me! I admittedly was not expecting much to begin with, but very soon warmed to him. He's known over here in Britain mainly for his stand up shows, and to, well, sweat a lot on stage (so you can imagine my reaction that his character carries around a little blue blanket/hanky. Oh now isn't that convinient!). I really did love his scream when Nathan Lane tried to pry it from his tight grip, it was piercing, and still had me laughing minutes later! His singing was nothing bad, and was surprised at his dancing, good on him! And oh dear gawd, all those reproductions of his face in the office; frightening.
More excitment came when Conleth Hill emerged onstage in drag as Roger DeBris. I saw him earlier this year in the serious play Democracy, a stark contrast to this! From a tight suit to a glittering dress! I love drag when the guy is just so masculine, the fact that it totally doesn't work, yet there they are, getting away with it! His character was so flamboyent and over the top, limp wrists galore! And his performance as Hitler, well, I'll come to that...
Another surprise appearance in the form of James Dreyfus, mainly known for his role in the sitcom 'Gimme Gimme Gimme'. When he opened the door and said, "Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss?" I nearly died laughing at how long that 's' continued on for!! They were checking the plumbing and everything! After it finally died down, there came another hilarious moment, where he went to "fetch" DeBris, and all we saw for bloody aaaaages was his arm and limp wrist g.r.a.d.u.a.l.l.y. disappearing through the door. It was excrutiatingly slow, and were were 'treated' to it again minutes later, ahahah! Probably one of my favourite moments there. Other mentions go to Leigh Zimmerman (Ulla), who must find it hard keeping a straight face at all the lines she has to say with that accent! And does anyone else think Stephen Carlile as the lead tenor was absolutely gorgeous, even in the Nazi uniform?

Highlight of the evening was (unsurprisingly) the muscial within the musical, 'Springtime for Hitler', the scene I knew the most about. I certainly was not let down! I laughed throughout!! "Heil myself!" sung Conleth Hill, parading around the stage as a grotesquely camp Hitler. Urgh, it was just so wrong to see that famous figure soooo...camp!! "Keep it gay!" as they say! Seeing him dance away famous war figures like Winston Churchill, followed by the motion and sound effect of a whip crack, ahhhh, wonderful! The part where he sat on the edge of the stage, miming "call me" to someone in the audience, excellent! This whole scene is worth the price of admission alone, and will definetely have me returning! And from we were sitting on high, got to see the dancing shape of the Swastika, how, urm, lovely ;) Definetely bad humour, but like in the show itself, it somehow manages to be extremely entertaining! The ending is still great, but that's the defining moment for me there.

We emerged from the theatre very happy people. I'd originally booked not knowing the university's firework night was the same night, but as we exited, a rocket went off opposite from us - fireworks and Nathan Lane!! Then a weird train of people and bikes slowly turned the corner, and passed us - Green Peace or something, I've no idea, but there was quiet music playing with them. A very odd sight. And then on the bus journey home, a fight broke out, which actually came to blows! See, this is why I don't like sitting upstairs at night....Anyway, I absolutely LOVED the show, please please please let there be a London cast recording (yes yes I know Nathan Lane leaves in 2 months, but bloody hell, looks at the Les Mis cast recordings - isn't Michael Ball on every single one of them?? ;D). Go see it people, you really won't regret it.........must book again (said in zombie tones).
(4th November 2004)

"Christmas came early to London this year - and guess who they stuffed in our stocking? Adolf Hitler!"

23RD DECEMBER 2004 Great time of the year to see a show, ay? See, I and my sister were thinking ahead - what would be great to see around christmas, that'll be impossible to get tickets for? Not really much to say for this, the same as above really, absolutely loved every second of it! Each time I see, is always with a group of people, so is a great experience (not that anyone ever tells me whether they enjoyed it or not, *sniff*). There was a funfair in the centre of Leicester Square, so before visiting Drury Lane, myself, sister and friend John hopped aboard the waltzers, a ride which I haven't been on in a loooong time! For some strange reason, I laughed hysterically the entire time, before nearly collapsing from diziness after getting off!

We were once again sat up in the balcony, taken up nearly all the seats in the side front row, and as usual, it was VERY hot. I'd wisely worn a longer top this time, as my last visit taught me, wearing hipster trousers and a short top can provide the most hideous view to those behind you ;D
Anyway, twas a full cast (I'd heard James Dreyfus had been off sick, but thankfully was on that night). And unknown to anyone (including the man himself), that was to be Nathan Lane's last performance in London, due to more back problems (gawd knows what he gets up to ;P). So I feel very lucky to have seen his last show, which was of course as wonderful as before. I want him to come back and do something else after he films the film of The Producers, but no doubt Broadway shall snare him back again. Lee Evans has really grown on me - he can't really sing, but dammit, is such a cute Leo Bloom! There's a lovely innocence to him and his reactions to all the mayhem around him, and I LOVE the skipping during 'The Guten Tag Hop-Clop'! My fave line of his is (childishly) his angry reply to Bialystock near the end - "Gnnnn........FAT!" Heh, his character really is a large kid, resorting to playground insults! I still absolutely love everything about Conleth Hill's performance, despite growing used to Gary Beach's Roger DeBris from the Broadway soundtrack (repeat after me - London. Recording. Now!). What large shoulders he has......*letch* My mum particularly liked Nicholas Colicos as Franz Liebkind, and all his pigeons, ahem. 'Haben Sie Gehort Das Deutsche Band?' is one of my fave songs from the show, even if it is far too short. And Leigh Zimmerman's (Ulla) singing is great, even with that accent, heheh!

Will want to see at some point in 2005 for sure, especially to see a new Max Bialystock. Sure, Nathan Lane's is unique, but is always great to see different takes on a role. Hurrah for understudies!

Cat Nip, all its characters & the artwork Trudi Castle;
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