A stellar cast leads by example in this triumphant opening night.
Mel Brooks’ classic musical about a struggling Broadway producer dazzled tonight as the nationwide tour stops at Woking. With its all-star cast living up to their top line billing and support cast raising the bar; this was a production for others to live up to.
The script was funny and tight, the comedy on point, slapstick and just a touch bawdy and blue and the songs memorable and bright. The set was simple and scaled down (cue mini sized taxi prop!) but this only helped to fuel the actor’s fire.
To the supporting cast first and the ensemble showed their versatility in a number of roles from prison inmates, lustful grannies and members of the Roger De Bris’ theatrical company and really brought the company numbers to life. Lee Proud’s choreography was humorous and detailed and expertly executed by all involved with special mention to Jay Webb who really caught the eye.
Tiffany Graves was sexy and funny as Swedish starlet Ulla who falls in love with Leo Bloom (Jason Manford) while David Bedella was excellent as theatrical laughing stock Roger De Bris who stole the second act with his performance in surprise success story “Springtime for Hitler”.
Cory English lead the cast superbly as Max Bialystock, the producer down on his luck and looking to get his career back on track. Great comic timing andauthentic chemistry with his co-stars (not least Jason Manford), the audience were lapping up his every joke, song and move!
Ross Noble turned in a brilliant physical performance as crazy writer Franz Liebkind, using his many years’ experience as a stand-up comedian to great effect. It was an intense, polished and bold performance and the role suited his mad-cap stage persona.
The real surprise of the night was the performance of Jason Manford as charming Leo Bloom. Under confident and unlucky in love, he delivered an incredible performance proving he is more than just a stand-up comedian. He can, dance and boy, can he sing. His performance was full of idiosyncrasies and had clearly put a lot of work into therole which has paid off no end. Bigger things beckon for this performer and expect more West End roles to come flooding in.
This was an exceptional production with first class performers from the leading men, wonderful supporting performers from the ensemble and proof that there is life in this story some 47 years after the film’s release. Go catch this production, you won’t regret it.