‘Producers’ director, cast tout tight comedy

Jason Poorman, director of State College Community Theatre’s production of “The Producers,” knows the power of hearty laugh.

“I think that’s a valuable lesson for all of us about how powerful comedy can be in our own lives,” he said. “Sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh, and sometimes that’s the very best thing for you.”

Poorman will lead the SCCT’s second show of the season, Mel Brooks’ Tony-winning musical. “The Producers” follows two theater producers who hatch a plan to become wealthy by overselling a Broadway flop and writing off the losses in the books. The show is full of ridiculous characters with funny accents, witty jokes, and insane silliness one would expect from Brooks, whose works include “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Spaceballs.”

Poorman, now involved in his ninth show for SCCT, said although “The Producers” is his first experience directing a musical, “It’s also been great fun. ... It’s been a real pleasure to spend my evenings working with them on a musical as ridiculously funny as ‘The Producers,’ and it’s also a pleasure to be able to make new friends in the process. I firmly believe in the power of laughter, and I think this show has done us all a world of good. My sincere hope is that it will do the same for our audiences.”

The show features music written by Brooks, and as featured on Broadway initially by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, won 12 Tony awards including best musical. The show even beat the record held by “Hello Dolly” for 37 years with its win of 10 Tonys. In 2005, the musical, which was based off a film, was remade again as a movie-musical, featuring its two Broadway leads and joined by Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell.

Poorman said “The Producers” is a wonderful show for many reasons.

“It’s a glittering tribute to the golden age musicals of the mid-20th century,” he said. “There are fantastic melodies and lavish dance numbers that would make (famed choreographer) Busby Berkeley feel right at home. ‘The Producers’ shows us that there’s still a lot to be discovered and cherished about the delightful style of the classic musical.”

During a recent rehearsal, everyone seemed to be giving their all. The cast seems capable and ready to put on a fabulous production.

“The show is a comedy, but everyone takes their role and place in the show very seriously,” said Steve Travis, who plays the role of the German playwright Franz Liebkind. “I think the crew’s vision and the cast’s interpretation offers so much to make this tried and true script seem fresh and brand new. So even if people have seen a version of the show in the past, I think they will have much to enjoy in this particular production, because we offer gags and characterizations that they simply just haven’t seen before.”