Reviews & Previews

Is Montreal ready to laugh at Adolph Hitler?

This is the gamble the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre is taking in presenting the hit musical The Producers, based on the satirical 1968 film by Mel Brooks. It is on at the Segal Centre June 19 to July 10 – in Yiddish, with English and French supertitles.

According to the National Household Survey Analysis published five years ago by Federation CJA, there were 4,520 child survivors and 1,280 adult survivors then living in Montreal. Will they, many of them Yiddish speakers, show up? Are their children and grandchildren ready to roll with the satirical punches?

In apparent appreciation of Holocaust sensibilities, Brooks’ song Springtime for Hitler and Germany will be sung in English, not Yiddish.

Judging from the way the musical, adapted for the stage by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, was received worldwide, the investment in procuring copyright and getting the text translated by academic Miriam Hoffman may well pay off.

The basic story tells of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom who plan a scam – to produce a flop, close the play early, and pocket investors’ money. Much to their chagrin, the play is a runaway success. It’s a madcap and zany succession of events.

The director is Anisa Cameron, the founding artistic director of the Côte Saint Luc Dramatic Society, whose members are participating in what is essentially a joint production with the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre.

Cameron, not a Yiddish speaker, said the final translation took “months and months” as local Yiddish experts were involved in making it less academic and more conversational. Yiddish speakers were involved in coaching the actors.

Tickets: 514-739-7944, or segalcentre.org

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