For San Francisco Bay Guardian, Draft July 2, 2009
"Heil Myself", the Führer Shouts
"The Producers" is loved by the German public, and "suitable for United States tourists" - watching it on stage, or pondering today's living Berlin
Mel Brooks' Broadway musical "The Producers / Springtime for Hitler" could be watched at Berlin's Admiralspalast until July 19, 2009. Persons up to 28 benefitted from a flatrate privilege, if their ticket order was accompanied by the term "JUNGVOLK" -gimme a break!- which in the Nazi language of the Third Reich means the "Hitler Youth" association. Got that?
The story of failed Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Cornelius Obonya playing) who with a would-be one, Leo Bloom (Andreas Bieber), tries to install a guaranteed complete failure in order to get away with a seven-digit dollar sum of tax prey, is respectless on all levels, tones, and subjects. An idiotic Bavarian-style hard-core Nazi, Franz Liebkind (Herbert Steinböck) offers the plot of "Hitler the way we all love him", and "he" dances and sings with his crew of swastika-displaying boys and girls. A band of ladies supposedly well over 60 perform brillantly with mechanical walking aids. And a jury court charged with doing justice to the "old" producer who has been depraved of two million greenbacks by the "new" one, enjoys an equally refreshing dance exercise.
All acts are brillantly performed, enjoyably of utter disrespect against any traditions of life and performing arts. Except when Hitler, "the way we all love him", after being announced as a "neo nazi" show, fools around with his swastika-armed followers (while usually they replace the symbol with kind of a pretzel), I could not but recognize my stomach revolt. All is perfectly suitable for American tourists, even without translating current dialogues you will recognize perfectly what is going on. But be not surprised when at this scene you hear somesone grunt "Mir kommt das Kotzen" which, in German, means I'll vomit pretty soon. And this voice may well be that of a sincere German of today, just as much as the surprised laughter of teenage girls who may well have the first off-duty encounter with the Nazi past (and, in certain areas, the Nazi present).
It is good for Germany when Anti-nazism is relieved from a rigid, quasi-religious, political correctness. Yes, you can laugh about Hitler, it was mostly Jewish writers and filmmakers who taught the rest of the world - as well as you can despair, remembering his unbelievable murders. And some will giggle, and I may vomit. So you feel all of present Germany when you visit Berlin's "Admiralspalast" just a few hundred yards from where "he" killed himself.
Well possible that a gay person feels offended by the musical's extraverted homosexual team leader, Martin Sommerlatte (impersonating Roger de Bris). So each and every prejudice, sense or nonsense, will be served in this musical respectless to any and all sides of history. Go visit Berlin, see the German public's reaction to Hitler and history, not far from "his" subterranean bunker - where no symbolic or reading memory of "him" is to be found.