If you saw “The Producers” at Paris Las Vegas about five years ago, you didn’t really see “The Producers.”
Following a long-standing Strip tradition, that 90-minute version chopped more than an hour of songs and scenes from the Tony-winning Broadway musical.
But Super Summer Theatre’s about to change all that, concluding its 38th season with the Las Vegas debut of the original “Producers,” which opens a nine-performance run Thursday at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
(The original musical version, that is — based on the original original, the Oscar-winning 1968 comedy that marked writer-director Mel Brooks’ big-screen debut.)
Joe Hynes , who’s directing the Super Summer production, first experienced the musical version of “The Producers” at Paris Las Vegas.
“Even when I saw it, I thought, ‘This is really great — but something’s missing,’ ” he recalls.
Not this time.
Super Summer audiences will see the same version of “The Producers” that captivated Broadway audiences in 2001 — and captured a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards (out of 15 nominations), including best musical.
It won every category where it received nominations, from Brooks’ musical score to the book, which madman Mel co-wrote with Thomas Meehan, who’s also won Tonys for “Annie” and “Hairspray.”
“The Producers” spins a warm, zany tale, bursting with humor — and more than a little heart — as it charts the loving, if unlikely, friendship between its crazed title characters.
In one corner, there’s on-the-skids Broadway impresario Max Bialystock (Troy Tinker ), who “used to be the king, the king of old Broadway,” as he sings, recalling the heyday when he was “the first producer ever to do summer stock in the winter!” (Max’s recollections include heaping helpings of four-letter words — which means the production is recommended for audiences 13 and older.)
Max seems doomed to obscurity, given the fate of his latest flop: “Funny Boy,” a musical version of “Hamlet.”
That is, until milquetoast accountant Leo Bloom (Cory Benway ) wanders into his office to audit the books — and inadvertently realizes that, “under the right circumstances, a producer could actually make more money with a flop than he can with a hit.”
Little wonder, then, that Leo — who’s always harbored fantasies of being a Broadway producer — joins Max on a quest to find, and produce, a show guaranteed to close on opening night, thereby leaving its producers free to abscond with the excess cash raised to stage it.
First, however, they have to find the right (as in horribly wrong) vehicle: “Springtime for Hitler,” subtitled “A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden,” by unrepentant ex-Nazi Franz Liebkind (Erik Ball).
It’s “a love letter to Hitler,” Max says — which makes it a perfect vehicle for their instant-flop scheme.
After getting Franz to sign on the dotted line by joining a rousing chorus of “Der Guten Tag Hop Clop,” Hitler’s favorite song, our producers next enlist their director, the notoriously inept Roger De Bris (Glenn Heath), whose motto is “Keep It Gay” — on stage and off.
Also in on the fun: Roger’s “common-law assistant” Carmen Ghia (Drew Yonemori ) and the producers’ Swedish bombshell of a secretary/receptionist, Ulla (Kady Kay Heard).
Not to mention numerous little old ladies who collectively invest $2 million in “Springtime for Hitler,” thanks to Max’s romantic overtures. (“They’re my angels — I’m their devil,” Max sings in “Along Came Bialy.”)
All undeniably uproarious — and outrageous.
Yet that very outrageousness remains a vital ingredient in “The Producers’ ” success, Hynes says.
As he’s told his cast members — all 25 of them — during rehearsal, “ ‘If you don’t go for it, 130 percent, the audience won’t believe you,’ ” the director notes. But if the performers embrace the show’s “over-the-top absurdity, and go with it,” audience members are “going to join in” the fun.
With such a large cast, “space is limited,” Hynes says, likening fitting everything onto the Spring Mountain Ranch stage to “a big game of Jenga.”
But those 25 cast members — including former Rockettes, showgirls and other Strip performers, along with local theater veterans — “believe in the project and love the material,” he says — so much that they were asking Hynes about roles months before casting began.
As a self-confessed theater buff who loves old musicals, Hynes “has thrown in a lot of references to old musicals” in this production, he says.
But the biggest salute to vintage showbiz is “The Producers” itself, Hynes says. “It’s really a love letter to Broadway.”
Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.