Video: Comedy shines through glitches

Rehearsals are now at the halfway stage and Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society's latest show - The Producers - is beginning to take shape.

James Marston

Rehearsals are now at the halfway stage and Ipswich Operatic and Dramatic Society's latest show - The Producers - is beginning to take shape. As part of our behind-the-scenes coverage JAMES MARSTON went to a Tuesday night rehearsal.

IN one corner a group of ladies is standing over a zimmer frame, in another a script is being studied.

It's rehearsal night and most of the cast have been summoned to the IODS rehearsal hall at Ipswich Labour Club in Silent Street - tonight they are going to run through act one and bring together weeks of practising and learning.

Under the watchful eye of director James Hayward the opening scene begins.

It isn't polished performance and it's all a bit rough round the edges but the comedy and humour shine through and the first few scenes are entertaining to watch.

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Roger Jackaman as Max Bialystock is on excellent form and already “off the book” which mean's he's learnt most of his lines.

A pivotal character in the show, Max is rarely off stage.

A little bit of a schemer, rather sarcastic and interested in making money, Max is a Broadway producer who has lost his magic touch.

Roger said: “He was in his heyday the King of Broadway but he's down on his luck and he keeps producing flops. Leo comes in to do his accounts and they come up with the idea of making more money by producing a flop.

“The show is the journey of Max and Leo finding the worst play ever written, having the worst director and actors - of course it is a huge hit.”

Roger, 48, of Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, has been performing for a number of years with a variety of amateur groups.

He said: “My first show with IODS was in 1986, it was Music Man and I was a dancer in the chorus. I've done most of the shows since and a number with Gallery Players.

“I've also done Sounds Familiar with IODS and performing is a long standing interest.”

The father-of-two said he enjoys the process of rehearsing and seeing the character come to fruition.

He said: “I also enjoy being on stage and I like the feeling of being able to entertain people. Max is a great part and one I thought I could do.

“He's on stage almost all the time and there's a lot to do. I really enjoy comedy and I like to think I have a good sense of humour.”

A chef by day, Roger is rehearsing several times a week.

He said: “It is a big commitment; it is three nights a week with some Sunday rehearsals.”

Last seen in a major role as Che in the IODS production of Evita, Roger said he does suffer from stage fright.

He added: “It is scary. I get a little bit nervous which you try to channel into your performance.”

Watching the rehearsal is choreographer David Hockley.

The 42-year-old joined IODS as a performer back in 1986 - he has been choreographing for a number of years including shows like Summer Holiday, Titanic, West Side Story, Anything Goes and Singing In The Rain.

David said: “There's a great satisfaction when you see your ideas coming together on the stage. There's a lot of choreography in The Producers so it is quite a challenge.

“There's tap routines, show girls, Jewish-style folk dancing and lots of movement, there is a variety of styles as well as the big show-stopping number Spring Time For Hitler.

“I am trying to bring out the humour of the show through the dancing as well and to make it as colourful and exciting as possible.”

The man with the baton and in charge of the music is Mike Wren.

He said: “The Producers is an ingenious piece of musical theatre by Mel Brooks, paying great attention to detail with regards to motif and the thematic material of the characters.

“It is jam-packed with humour and the musical quotations alluding to stereotypical characters (mainly Jewish and German) are cleverly written very tongue-in-cheek, but careful not to cause offence.”

Mike, who is also head of music at Deben High School, believes anyone can sing - provided they have the dedication and time needed - though not all the cast read music.

He added: “Some are able to read music though many pick it up by osmosis. It is not essential for cast members to be musically literate, but it of course helps.

“Being a music teacher I have developed over the last ten years or so a vast repertoire of strategies for helping people to access and learn their music.”

On the night Mike will command an orchestra comprising of three reeds, three trumpets, a french horn, two trombones, strings, piano, bass and percussion, to achieve the glitzy Broadway sound the show needs.

He said: “Anyone who truly appreciates musical theatre knows that the orchestra is an integral part of the show and, under the musical director's baton, can respond more sensitively to any part of the show with a hundred times more realism than any recording.

“I am thoroughly enjoying working on this production, IODS are extremely fortunate to premiere this show in the region and I always welcome a challenge.

“The music and the show itself will appeal to a wide audience. I understand it is a lesser-known show although it is by no means a new story - the original movie was released in 1968 and remade in 2005 - a comparatively old show with a new lease of life.”

The Producers will be performed at the Regent from June 17 to 20. Tickets are �16 and �14 and are available from the Ipswich Regent box office on 01473 433100.

Are you a fan of IODS? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The Producers tells the story of failing theatre producer Max and former accountant Leo who concoct a plan to raise two million dollars for a theatrical production that must fail.

To be sure of a flop, they choose a musical with cheerful numbers about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

After the failure of the show, Max and Leo will take the surplus cash and go to Rio but unfortunately for them, the production is a rip-roaring success.

IODS was formed in 1954.