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‘A rowdy parody of bad taste’ – The Producers set to open at Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

PUBLISHED: 14:42 28 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:24 30 August 2017

The Producers at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

The Producers at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

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The Producers opens in Stevenage this week with a West End cast. We spoke to Paul Easom and Ryan Owen who star in the Gordon Craig Theatre’s production of the Mel Brooks musical.

Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are the main characters in The Producers and are on stage for most of the show.

Actors Paul Easom and Ryan Owen have big shoes to fill when they take to the stage as Max and Leo in the Gordon Craig’s summer musical, which opens on Tuesday, August 29.

• MORE: Exclusive interview with Ali Bastian about her role in The Producers

The Producers was first seen on screen in 1967 as a satirical film starring Gene Wilder as accountant Leo Bloom.

Paul Easom stars as Max Bialystock in The Producers at the Gordon Craig Theatre in StevenagePaul Easom stars as Max Bialystock in The Producers at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

More than 30 years later, in 2001, The Producers took to Broadway starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the best known roles.

After a record-breaking Broadway run, it was released as a film in 2005, with Lane and Broderick reprising their roles as Max and Leo on the big screen.

Meanwhile, the original London West End stage production from 2004, again starring Nathan Lane as Max, this time opposite comedian Lee Evans as Bloom, won a number of Laurence Olivier Awards.

Both Paul and Ryan are aware of the famous footsteps they are following in.

Ryan Owen stars as Leo Bloom in The Producers at the Gordon Craig Theatre in StevenageRyan Owen stars as Leo Bloom in The Producers at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

Paul, who will play Broadway producer Max, said: “I saw Nathan Lane play it on Broadway.

“I also saw him do it in London and, obviously, Zero Mostel in the original film before it was a musical.

“And I’ve actually worked with the man in the original film who played Roger DeBris, the director. He [Christopher Hewett] directed a production of The Boyfriend I did at the Old Vic. So we have a connection from the original film.”

Ryan, who will play Leo, said: “Obviously they are such iconic people and iconic actors – and they know exactly what they are doing. The way they work with the role is incredible.

“I definitely prefer the second film myself, because I love Matthew Broderick.”

Paul loves working on the Gordon Craig’s version of The Producers.

He said: “It’s great to be in it. It’s a wonderful show.

“It’s very true to the original. It’s got a great score and it’s a very funny book.

“I think it’s probably one of the best written musicals, most definitely.

“All the characters have their moments when they shine, even though Max and Leo are the protagonists, it’s everybody’s show.”

Describing the Mel Brooks musical as “a rowdy parody of bad taste”, Paul added: “It’s got a bit of everything. It’s very tongue in cheek. I think it’s timeless.”

Co-star Ryan added: “Definitely my humour. Just close to the line… probably over the line in places!”

The cast of The Producers in rehearsals at the Gordon Craig Theatre in StevenageThe cast of The Producers in rehearsals at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage

Ryan will be appearing in his fourth GCT production and is familiar with a number of the cast having shared a stage with them in the recent touring production of Rapunzel.

“I’ve done a couple of Easter shows, Alice in Wonderland and James and the Giant Peach, and this year I’ve done Rapunzel, both at Easter and the tour, and this is my fourth one.

“It’s just a brilliant team to work with.

“It does help break the ice a bit when you’ve got a few people you’ve already worked with.”

Paul, meanwhile, is a newcomer to the Gordon Craig but is loving the camaraderie of the Stevenage company.

“It’s also nice being an outsider,” said Paul, who recently appeared in The Girls, a musical comedy written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth.

“I’ve never worked here [at the Gordon Craig]. They have formed a family, a relationship with each other, but they’ve been very welcoming as well to ‘outsiders’ like me who haven’t worked here.”

Speaking on the sixth day of an intense two-week rehearsal period, Paul admitted: “There’s a huge amount to learn. Possibly my biggest challenge to date.

“It’s an incredibly talented cast though, everybody is very proficient in getting it done quickly.

“I think Catherine Lomax has done a really good job with the casting.”

The Producers opens on Tuesday, August 29 and runs until Saturday, September 9.

To book tickets, visit www.gordon-craig.co.uk

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