In the wacky world that exists in Mel Brooks's head came a production with such kerfuffery, such skullduggery, such bamboozlement that only the zany entertainers of Judy Russell's could possibly pull it off.
It's The Producers in all its whimsical wonderful glory and heading up the cast is the one-of-a-kind showman that is Gil Botelho as Max Bialystock.
The show goes July 26 to August 4 at the air-conditioned Prince George Playhouse.
"Choreography is the scariest part," said Botelho, five years ago talking about his starring role as Nathan Detroit in Judy Russell's production of Guys and Dolls. That was his last time on stage and asking the same question five years later you get the same answer as he takes on the role of Max, a greedy businessman who's all in when it comes to making Broadway's biggest flop and counting on the failure to make him his fortune.
"I'm not a natural dancer so always trying to pick that up as quickly as possible is the toughest part for me," said Botelho. "Judy brings in her core group of dancers and she's shouting out commands and in three seconds flat they're whipping around doing all these things and you're standing there going 'ya, that's not gonna happen! Somebody speak to me in English, please!'"
The role of Max is a massive part and there are a lot of songs he sings in and a couple of big numbers that he does alone, Botelho said, who's never had this big a singing role. But he's always up for the challenge. He loves performing.
"It's hard to explain unless you've done it and once you've done a few it's always in your blood and every once in a while you get that itch and you need to scratch it," said Botelho. "There wasn't much going on around town for the longest time so there wasn't a lot of opportunity. So here was the opportunity to get back up there and do it again and it's always so much fun. It's just so different from anything you do on a regular day-to-day basis and it just takes you to a whole different level. It's exhilarating, it's energizing and it's a hoot. Being able to get back together with a lot of the same people that you've worked with before is also a big reason to get back into it. It's a fantastic talented group and they're energizing to be around and it's just a lot of fun."
Botelho also enjoys working with the professionals like producer Judy Russell, music director, and stage manager Robin Norman and choreographer Kristen Helfrich. It's boosted his confidence.
"When I heard what show it was I thought man, what a fantastic production -- it's so funny, Mel Brooks is brilliant and I just had to give this thing a go," said Botelho. "So I went in and read through some scenes and tried a couple of quick numbers from the show and went away waiting to hear. I was hoping I could get a part, never in my wildest dreams expecting Judy would give me the role of Max and when she called and said that's the part she wanted me to try I was stunned, flattered, humbled, scared, nervous -- all those things all at once! But very excited to pull it off. Obviously a fantastic role, lots of great opportunity to stretch yourself and have some fun and of course Nathan Lane being the guy everyone associates with that part you're kind of thinking 'oh my god, how do you live up to that?'" laughed Botelho.
Rehearsals started in May with the core cast mates rehearsing together and then it was a whole other thing when the chorus of singers and dancers joined the fray.
"It's all been going great," said Botelho. "We've been feeding off each other very well and having a blast doing it. Once they bring in the entire cast that's when you get the wow moment. The whole group is in the room. Everyone is doing their thing and there's tons of energy and then they open their mouths and they sing all those layered harmonies -- it's just amazing to see what they've done in the other room and then they're brought in -- they open their mouths and there's this beautiful wall of sound and you're going -- this is amazing! Holy cow! They're really good!"
Mel Brook's show,The Producers, is a 12-time Tony Award winning musical comedy and Judy Russell's production also features Owen Selkirk as Leo and Amanda Spurlock as Ulla.
Tickets are at Studio 2880, 2880 15th Avenue, or by calling 250-563-2880. Adults are $30, students and seniors are $26.