NEWSDAY Review: ‘The Producers’ at Engeman review

Updated June 4, 2015 6:22 PM

Two priceless scenes from Mel Brooks’ 1968 movie are missing from “The Producers” Broadway juggernaut. One is Gene Wilder’s manic “25,000 percent!” — the other, Zero Mostel’s attempted bribe of a critic. The latter relates to people who do what I do, while the former relates to accountants who do your taxes. OK, so we’re not candidates for prom king or queen. “The Producers,” in its unapologetically stereotypical way, nails any and all of us — Jews, goys, gays, straights, blacks, blondes, ladies of a certain age, Nazis. You can hardly imagine a more politically (and inclusively) incorrect comedy.

If you get past all that, you’re in for a musical treat in Engeman Theater’s season finale.
“The Producers,” which set a record for Tony Awards (12) in 2001, should no longer require a warning label for people who’d be appalled by mining the Holocaust for humor, though we respect those for whom that remains too much.

Theater reviews
It’s a by-now-familiar tale, probably attempted for real on Broadway: Make a killing out of a show that dies overnight. The trick is to sell 100 (or 25,000) percent in potential profit to each of 1,000 or more gullible investors. In “The Producers,” the scheme comes about when Leo Bloom, a meek accountant, examines the books after a Broadway producer’s latest flop: Max slightly overcharged his investors. What if he collected $2 million for a show that closed at intermission? Inspired by Leo, Max solicits little old ladies of means, led by spry, well-short-of-senior-citizenship Suzanne Mason.

Stuart Zagnit, who bears a resemblance to a younger Mel Brooks (88), revels in his character’s moral unambiguity. (“Imagine you’re a dishonest man,” Bloom suggests. “Imagine away,” Max responds.) Joel Newsome, who appeared in the Broadway production and understudied the Leo Bloom role, is at once mousy and Machiavellian as the little accountant who could, with a criminal co-conspirator, at last think big. Into their sham they enlist va-zoom Ulla (a well-pitched Gina Milo), Franz (antic John Plumpis), author of “Springtime for Hitler” and Roger De Bris (Ian Knauer), the gayest director in town and his significant assistant Carmen Ghia (Christopher Sloan), both playing it gayer than springtime, realized in gloriously kitsch costumes (Kurt Alger) and set (Daniel Willis).

As directed by Igor Goldin and choreographed by Antoinette DiPietropolo to James Olmstead’s orchestra, “The Producers” goes all out to stretch our PC boundaries. As it should.

WHAT “The Producers”

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 12, John W. Engeman Theater at Northport, 250 Main St.

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TICKETS $69; 631-261-2900,

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