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Taking a Long 'Stro' With 'The Producers'

January 19, 2006 By:
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Director Susan Stroman

So, you wanna be a producer? Maybe it helps to have a great director.

Susan Stroman had a hit with the flopsweat of her "Producers" on Broadway in 2001; five years later, the director/choreographer - who made body "Contact" with the Tony Award in 2000 - is now watching as her Broadway Bialystock and Bloom bounce off the big screen.

One of the season''s most anticipated arrivals, "The Producers" is not the success story a Bialystock would dream of (meaning a flop); nor is it the big bash its creator, Mel Brooks, may have assumed.

But it has schtupped to conquer the many Mel fans who earlier had traveled down Nathan Lane for memories of Brooks'' vivid vivisection of ole vaudeville.

For "Stro" - as her fans know her - it''s been a stroll in a very posh neighborhood, where "Producers," the play, rolls profits as easily as "Der Guten Tag Hop Clop" hops off Franz Liebkind''s lips.

So how did a genteel gentile woman from Arden, Del., become such an ardent advocate of Nazi nonsense?

"I''ve always loved doing different things," says the woman of many hats usually seen in a baseball cap. "That keeps me interested all the time."

A-OK - okay, so her "Oklahoma!" didn''t cause June to bust out all over when she choreographed its revival on Broadway some seasons back, but "The Producers" has produced more huzzahs and high-fives than the high-stepping director probably has time for.

The choreographer and director of the prized revival of "The Music Man" is a musical woman with 76 trombones trumpeting her every move.

Not that there wasn''t the possibility of her razzle-dazzle ''em work getting the razz from some.

A dancing swastika on stage? Sieg … hell?

"Nazism is not a joke, but these characters," she says of Bialystock and Bloom, "believe they''ll have a flop with ''Springtime for Hitler.'' That''s a joke, of course, but one made clear by the fact that [''Springtime''] is the worst show in history."

In the race to make the Aryan race stumble and fall to the guffaws of audiences, Brooks breaks with traditional storytelling. Mano to mano with the Fiddler, count on Mel to send him falling face first from the roof.

When it comes to innovation, iconoclasts Brooks and Stroman clasp hands and jump together into the breach. Going for broke?

"In every show I''ve done, it seems I''ve broken the rules," says Stro.

But, ya know, the one-of-a-kind team that is Bialystock and Bloom may have some kinda in the Broadway family that Stroman is familiar with.

Musical men, meet the Music Man. "In a way," laughs Stroman, "Bialystock and Bloom are the kissing cousins of Professor Harold Hill."

 

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