"The Producers" opens at Woodside High Performing Arts Center at 199 Churchill Ave. on Friday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m. and continues on Oct. 26 and then Nov. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m., with two matinee performances on Sundays, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. Ticket information is below.
By Kate Daly, Special to the Almanac
Mel Brooks wrote and composed the show after writing and directing the popular film with the same name in 1968.
The female lead in the Woodside production, Jessica Whittemore, "is brand new to us; she's a fabulous, over-the top Ulla," says co-producer Mark Bowles. She showed up on the last day of auditions and won "a really competitive contest with four other ladies," he says.
He has a theory on why the theater group is attracting fresh talent. "A community theater like ours goes through a maturation process as our reputation gets (better) known, and as long as we don't screw up, we get a wider group of people trying out," he says.
Audiences probably won't recognize the actor playing the main role of has-been Broadway producer Max Bialystock. Dan Demers directed WCT's "The Drowsy Chaperone" in 2010, but this is his debut on-stage performance with WCT.
His sidekick and accountant, Leo Bloom, is played by a familiar face, however. Matt Waters appeared as Rolf in WCT's "Sound of Music" last year. More recently he played Curly in Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory's "Oklahoma!" last March.
Mr. Waters teaches middle school math at Woodside School, and is heading right into another community production in December Hillbarn Theatre's "Mame."
Since WCT rehearsals have been at Woodside School and Woodside Village Church just across the street, the schedule has worked out well for him.
Maddie Rostami of Menlo Park found her way to WCT through a Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory connection. She teaches classes there, is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School, says she's "really excited" to be making her debut in WCT's ensemble.
A couple from Portola Valley, Torrey Rothstein and Fiona Ryan, joined the cast of "Sound of Music" last year, and have several bit parts this year.
Some of the other performers have longtime connections to Woodside.
Along with her husband Darrell, Darlene Batchelder is appearing in her eighth WCT show. She used to perform at Woodside High when she was a student there. In this show, she is in the ensemble and plays one of the older ladies Bialystock and Bloom seek to take advantage of when the men attempt to produce a big flop and their show, "Springtime for Hitler," unexpectedly becomes a smash hit.
Is a Broadway parody appropriate for every age? Batchelder personally recommends the musical for kids 10 and older because "it's really rude and crude; it's funny."
Mr. Bowles says the musical "has some bathroom jokes and off-color humor, but it's pretty ridiculous. … There's something to offend everyone in a lighthearted and fun way."
He is joined by two co-producers. Claudia McCarley went to Woodside High. She plays Shirley in the show and is part of the ensemble. Donna Losey was a Woodside School parent with Mr. Bowles and Ms. Batchelder, helped with shows there, and then became a drama booster when her children went on to perform in productions at Woodside High.
Two other Woodside High drama boosters, Nancy Krosse and Lyndesay Adams, are in the ensemble. Ms. Krosse also appears as one of the older ladies.
Another Woodside High drama booster, Karen Patrick, is teaming up with former Woodside School teacher Liz Matchett to organize the costumes.
Once again, two Woodside brothers, Akio and Steve Patrick, are working behind the scenes. Akio is technical director and set designer. Steve is head of set construction. Their kids are in college now after attending both Woodside schools.
Richard Gordon of Woodside is back as musical director, leading a full live orchestra.
Kristen Pfeiffer returns as choral director this year. Don Coluzzi is doing the lighting again.
Joan Rubin of Woodside is one of the original volunteers going back to when George Sellman directed the shows. She's helping run spotlights. Her grandson, Alex Rubin, is in the ensemble.
Two newcomers this year are Erica Wyman as artistic director and Joe Duffy as choreographer.
"The Producers" opens at Woodside High Performing Arts Center at 199 Churchill Ave. on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and continues on Oct. 26 and then Nov. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m., with two matinee performances on Sundays, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 at 2 p.m.
Visit WoodsideTheatre.com for more information and tickets. Tickets will also be sold at the door and by calling (800) 838-3006.
The prices are $15 for children, 18 and under; $25 for seniors, 62 and older; and $28 for adults.