Interview: Jerrard Doran, The Producers

Theatrical conventions take a pasting at the Church Hill Theatre from Tuesday, 22 March when Edinburgh Music Theatre roll up to Morningside for a week to perform Mel Brooks’s zany, multi-award-winning, Nazi-themed comedy, The Producers.

A subversive send up of the theatre world, the musical focuses on penniless New York producer, Max Bialystock, who hires gauche accountant Leo Bloom to help him pull of Broadway’s greatest scam.

Question is: will they get away with it? Let’s ask actor Jerrard Doran, who plays Bloom in the show.

  • What is it about The Producers that make it such a worthwhile show for audiences to see?

“There is so much good about The Producers, it’s difficult to know where to start. Hilarious and memorable characters, witty dialogue, gloriously irreverent themes – and big, bold, brassy musical numbers that will have your toes tapping all the way home (not advisable if you’re driving).”

  • Why did the group choose this particular musical to perform?

“How could we not? Mel Brooks has created such a bona fide stoater of a show that we just knew we had to give it the EMT treatment – and we’re certain you’ll love what we’ve done with it.”

  • And what can Edinburgh audiences expect?

“To be transported to a heavily sequinned land where showgirls dance, Dictators prance, and little old ladies run rampant. Also, Edinburgh Music Theatre cannot be held responsible for any aching smile muscles, split sides, or for the musical numbers being stuck in your head for weeks after the show.”

  • You play Leo in the show – how do you feel about stepping into such a big comedic role? 

“I’ll admit that it was quite daunting at first – this is easily the biggest role I’ve ever performed! I have held comedic roles before, but it was in my high school days, so this has been a huge learning experience for me, and one I’ve enjoyed every moment of. I love to laugh and to make people laugh, so it’s been a great opportunity for that.”

“The character comes

out strongest when I

manage to abandon

any self-consciousness”

  • What have been the biggest challenges in preparing for the role/production?

“I’ve found the character comes out strongest when I manage to abandon any self-consciousness, and that was difficult at the beginning. So I think the biggest challenge for me has been learning to just let go of any embarrassment or inhibition and really take the character to extremes.”

  • The Producers is a bit like art imitating life – has there been any real-life drama/chaos on the set during rehearsals?

“Sorry to disappoint, but no, not really. The most we’ve had was three principals out of action due to illness at one time – that was a bit touch and go. But we are a family at EMT, we stick with each other through thick and thin. We’ve all grown really close over the course of this process and I hope that’ll be clear in our enjoyment of performing this show for our audiences.”

  • There are a lot of songs in the show – what’s your favourite tune to sing in the production, and why?

“Well, it’s tempting to say it’s I Wanna Be a Producer, with all its glittery, tap dance-y excitement, but my favourite is actually the slower, more emotional Til Him. It serves as a bit of catharsis for Leo’s character, and allows the strong bond of friendship between Max and Leo to be shared, explored and affirmed. It’s a moment of stillness amongst the madness, and a really heartfelt and genuine number. I love singing it.”

  • The professional musical adaptation has no shortage of big sets. How do you all go about ensuring the production is as spectacular as possible?

“Everyone knows that The Producers is a big show with lots of different technical elements to keep in check. As an amateur company, naturally we don’t have a big Broadway budget. What we do have is an exceptional creative team behind us, who are making sure that we will be drenching every square inch of the Church Hill Theatre’s stage with glamour, glitz, sequins and all manner of things. Of course, the power of the performances shining through will also help to transport the audience to 1950s NYC.”

  • What’s the chemistry like between you and your co-star who plays Max? Is it important to have a good rapport with your opposite number in a show where two characters feature so closely?

“I had never met Andrew McDade before I auditioned for this show, but in the time we’ve been rehearsing we’ve become fast friends. I am absolutely in awe of the man; he is a broadly experienced and fantastically versatile actor who never ceases to surprise and amaze. He can have you crying with laughter and then sadness practically in the same breath. Because of this, he helped us bounce off each other perfectly and our chemistry has developed very quickly and easily. In a show like The Producers, where the leading role is really a duo, I think having a good rapport is hugely important. To make the on-stage relationship work you have to really know the off-stage person, have absolute trust in them, and help each other grow as performers. Without Andrew’s guidance and support I couldn’t have hoped to fill Leo’s boots, and I want to thank him for that.”

  • Describe your adaptation of the musical in three words.

“Riotous, rollicking and risqué.”

Edinburgh Music Theatre present The Producers, Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road, Tue 22 – Sat 26 Mar, 7.30pm (Sat matinee: 2.30pm), £15/ £12 (Wed – Sat); £12 (Tue evening and Sat matinee), 0131 228 1155

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Words: Barry Gordon