Mel Brooks' The Producers was a quantum leap from the Muny's usual family-friendly "been there, done that" repertoire. But this paean to crassness was a terrific season opener, thanks in great measure to Lewis J. Stadlen's gloriously misanthropic performance as the incorrigible Max Bialystock. Although Stadlen had already played this eminently corruptible character hundreds of times on Broadway and on the road (including at the Fox), he reconceived it for Forest Park. He also encouraged the Muny to hire a supporting cast of solid actors who already knew the show. And he requested — and received — an extra week of rehearsal in New York prior to coming to town. The result was a reconfigured production, tailor-made for St. Louis, that sparkled with finesse and polish. This, Lew, is for caring so much.
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