The Producers at the Hollywood Bowl – Part 2

August 3, 2012

Dane Cook as Franz Liebkind in The Producers at The Hollywood Bowl, smiling, holding pigeon
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Picking up from last week

This was something different from the usual beginning of a musical. Right before the show, everyone stood and sang along as the band played the National Anthem. (At least, I think the idea was for us all to sing along, since everyone around me was doing it. Who knows…)

Before I get to complaints and raves about certain things about the show – can we just talk about how Dane Cook completely stole the show? I kid you not. He was phenomenal. I don’t even think that’s overstating it. I didn’t know what to expect from Dane Cook. I’m gonna go ahead and be honest and say I wasn’t expecting much. That might be kind of mean, but I heard it was just some stunt casting. I didn’t know if he could act. I didn’t know if he could sing, or do musical theater. But, boy oh boy, he rocked that stage! He had enough energy to fill the entire space – and the venue holds 18,000 people, so that’s a lot of energy! Great voice, great acting, great dancing, great all of it. Great, great, great.

I saw an interview with him in which he said that he was basically living the show. He said he was always practicing his accent and songs and everything – in the car, during breaks, wherever he could. It really showed! I’m mighty impressed with his dedication and talent. I’d never seen him in anything before – I’ve never seen one of his stand-up specials, or movies, or anything. (I wasn’t actively avoiding him or anything, I just never happened to see any of his stuff.) Now, he’s got a new fan. I’d be happy to go see him again in anything. I was blown away.

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And now to my biggest complaint – maybe not even complaint per se, so much as sadness. I did not realize exactly how much sets influence a show until I saw The Producers without moving sets. Changing the set completely, as opposed to just adding a couch and taking away a couch, is part of the magic. And I didn’t realize exactly how much magic sets hold. I’ve seen a number of great shows with a very minimal set, or one that doesn’t change at all throughout the show. But this is a big spectacle-having show. In a show like this, it mattered.

For instance, when they started doing the dance where SPOILER ALERT (But honestly, how have you not seen this show yet? It came out 11 years ago – and they made a movie out of it.) – people are marching in the formation of a swastika, I was hoping against all hope, “Bring the mirror out, bring the mirror out.” Nope. They did show a camera angle on the jumbotron that showed the swastika, but it was so not the same. I guess what I’m saying here, is that it seems as though I’m maybe trying to pinpoint why there wasn’t as much magic this time as there is in a Broadway theater, but I’m not sure that you can pinpoint it down to one thing such as sets. Sometimes magic is magic, and it’s hard to pinpoint it. And there was some magic missing.

Richard Kind and Jesse Tyler Ferguson with canes and hats doing the finale in The Producers at the Hollywood Bowl
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However, Jesse Tyler Ferguson breathes life into any show. Even if the show doesn’t live up to preconceived notions in other ways – he will make it special. I said I wasn’t going to write a whole loving post about him, but now that we’re talking about him, how can I not?

Tomorrow I’ll give you a whole Jesse Tyler Ferguson love-fest.

For now, I’ll finish talking about the show.  They cut  a pretty memorable song from the end. That was a bit of a confusing bummer. JTF made some awesomely fun and hilarious choices. (You can see some of his great facial expressions here.) As the music for “I Wanna Be a Producer” stared, I leaned forward and scooted straight to the edge of my seat. Of course he rocked it (as I knew he would).

I thought I’d check out the stage door to see if there was a chance I’d see him. The area outside of the stage door was littered with celebrities, and overly crowded. Ah, to be back in the days when he was surprised to have a fan waiting… (I don’t wish those days for him, though! I’m so happy that his talent has been recognized by him being put on an extremely popular TV show.)

At the end of the night, I ran into my two new friends on the bus ride home. They ended up sitting next to Dave Foley! (Apparently he was incredibly fun – and knew what show he was seeing (unlike the people around me).)

A fun night was had by all (all 3 of us, at least – I can’t speak for everyone at the Bowl).

(And you can read the Jesse Tyler Ferguson love-fest here.)

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