Written by Jim Corti, Artistic Director and Director of The Producers

The Producers opened on Broadway in 2001 making box office history, and it holds the record for winning the most Tony Awards ever, at 12! (Take that, Hamilton!) Mel Brooks, with the late, great, Thomas Meehan, adapted the musical’s book from his 1967 directorial film debut of the same name, which scored him an Academy Award. Brooks also wrote the show’s tunes and lyrics, drawing on his experience playing in the Catskills (Borscht Belt, Jewish Alps, Sour Cream Sierras) as a drummer, pianist, and stand-up comedian. In the early 50s, Mel was writing sketch comedy for Cid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows (NBC’s forerunner to SNL). Young “Melvin” served as a World War II Army corporal, defusing German land mines and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He soldiered into his subsequent career developing an arsenal of retaliation against anti-Semitism through his frenzied, ferocious brand of humor as an equal opportunity offender, citing, “The only weapon I’ve got is comedy.”

Brooks’ wartime experience resonates in The Producers as he clown dunks protagonists, Max and Leo, into a pressure cooker of stress and distress, eliciting a fictional Broadway show circa 1959, satirically bankrupt of any political correctness and unapologetic for any amoral crassitude. “I was never crazy about Hitler… If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator, you never win… That’s what they do so well: they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter, they can’t win. You show how crazy they are.” – A reigning, creative force of nature at 92, Brooks muses on the goofily ironic, romantic optimism at the core of his stories (The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein),

“It seems that I write about love stories between two men. Most stories are kind of money or love. The world’s riches or the human heart’s riches. I always go for the human riches.”