‘The Producers’ promises to bring belly laughs to Music Box in Swoyersville

By Mary Therese Biebel - [email protected]
In their zeal to produce ‘the worst play ever’ Max Bialystock (portrayed by Jimmy Williams of Dunmore), left, and Leopold Bloom (Michael Marone of Wilkes-Barre), right, dance ‘Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop’ with Franz Liebkind (Christian Lynch of Wyoming), a playwright who has written a dreadful musical about Hitler. It’s all part of ‘The Producers,’ set for Saturday, April 28, through May 13 at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville. - Submitted photos
Max Bialystock (Jimmy Williams) and Leopold Bloom (Michael Marone) seem eager to hire Ulla (Kristina Toussaint) as their new secretary/receptionist. - Submitted photos
Leopold (Michael Marone, left) and Max (Jimmy Williams, third from left) meet ‘the worst director ever,’ Roger DeBris (Mike Wawrzynek of Forty Fort, second from left) and his assistant, Carmin (Kevin Costley of Plymouth). - Submitted photos

SWOYERSVILLE — Is Leopold Bloom cut out to be a con man?

Hmm … Just look at him, quivering, cowering and hysterical — all because a down-and-out theater guy he just met, Max Bialystock, has gotten hold of Leo’s handkerchief, which is really his security blanket.

Maybe Leo should stick to his run-of-the-mill accounting job, even if the boss chews him out for being six minutes late and bristles at any “stench of self-esteem.”

Then again, the chance to be Max’s partner in subterfuge could make up for all the excitement Leo has been missing.

“Until he met Max, he just accepted the fact his life was mundane,” said Michael Marone, of Wilkes-Barre, who portrays the mousy Leo in the Mel Brooks musical “The Producers,” staged April 28 through May 13 at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse. “Now he sees there’s more to life than rinse, repeat and pay the bills.”

“Leo has the smarts with the accounting and business experience,” said Jimmy Smith, of Dunmore, explaining why the character he portrays, Max, wants to team up with Leo. “Max has the connections.”

Together, the two will conspire to produce the worst play possible — with the worst script, worst director and worst cast — hoping it will close quickly and they can disappear with the money they will have collected from backers.

The play Max and Leo eventually discover is “the most abysmal, offensive slice of theater that has ever been put to page,” said Mike Wawrzynek, of Forty Fort, who plays Roger DeBris, “the worst director” they could possibly hire.

The so-crazy-it-might-work plan looks promising when Max and Leo persuade “the worst playwright,” a pigeon-raising, tenement-dwelling Nazi sympathizer named Franz Liebkind, to let them stage his musical. Liebkind will even play the title role in “Springtime for Hitler,” with DeBris directing.

So far, so bad. Which is good.

But when someone utters a “good luck” on opening night, a jinxed Liebkind breaks his leg. Mein Gott, doesn’t everyone know it’s dangerous to say those words in a theater?

With Liebkind indisposed, director DeBris steps in to play Hitler, and since his character is, as Wawrzynek explains it, “as flamboyant as humanly possible,” the musical suddenly becomes must-see satire.

The crowds won’t stay away. “Where did we go right?” the producers lament.

Will Max and Leo be able to extricate themselves from this Bavarian gherkin, er, pickle? Come to the show and you’ll see, cast members said.

“It feels like an old-fashioned musical,” director Dane Bower II, of West Wyoming, said before a recent rehearsal. “It’s Mel Brooks, so it’s bawdy and a little raunchy, with real genuine belly laughs.”

“These guys are great,” he said of the cast. “They go above and beyond.”

“It’s very high energy,” Wawrzynek added. “It feels like we’re running at a sprint.”

In their zeal to produce ‘the worst play ever’ Max Bialystock (portrayed by Jimmy Williams of Dunmore), left, and Leopold Bloom (Michael Marone of Wilkes-Barre), right, dance ‘Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop’ with Franz Liebkind (Christian Lynch of Wyoming), a playwright who has written a dreadful musical about Hitler. It’s all part of ‘The Producers,’ set for Saturday, April 28, through May 13 at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_producers1.jpgIn their zeal to produce ‘the worst play ever’ Max Bialystock (portrayed by Jimmy Williams of Dunmore), left, and Leopold Bloom (Michael Marone of Wilkes-Barre), right, dance ‘Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop’ with Franz Liebkind (Christian Lynch of Wyoming), a playwright who has written a dreadful musical about Hitler. It’s all part of ‘The Producers,’ set for Saturday, April 28, through May 13 at the Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville. Submitted photos

Max Bialystock (Jimmy Williams) and Leopold Bloom (Michael Marone) seem eager to hire Ulla (Kristina Toussaint) as their new secretary/receptionist.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_producers2.jpgMax Bialystock (Jimmy Williams) and Leopold Bloom (Michael Marone) seem eager to hire Ulla (Kristina Toussaint) as their new secretary/receptionist. Submitted photos

Leopold (Michael Marone, left) and Max (Jimmy Williams, third from left) meet ‘the worst director ever,’ Roger DeBris (Mike Wawrzynek of Forty Fort, second from left) and his assistant, Carmin (Kevin Costley of Plymouth).
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_producers4.jpgLeopold (Michael Marone, left) and Max (Jimmy Williams, third from left) meet ‘the worst director ever,’ Roger DeBris (Mike Wawrzynek of Forty Fort, second from left) and his assistant, Carmin (Kevin Costley of Plymouth). Submitted photos
Play within the play aims to be worst ever

By Mary Therese Biebel

[email protected]

IF YOU GO

What: ‘The Producers’

Who: Music Box Players

When: Saturday, April 28, through May 13 with curtain at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays and buffet dinner starting 90 minutes before curtain.

Where: Music Box Dinner Playhouse, 196 Hughes St., Swoyersville

Tickets: Adult dinner and show: $35; children 12 and under: $25. Adult show-only: $18; children, students, members of the military: $14.

Mother’s Day Gala performance: 3 p.m. May 13 with dinner at 1:30 p.m. A choice of either prime rib of beef or jumbo shrimp stuffed with crabmeat will be offered. Dinner and show: $50 per person.

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.