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It's springtime for Hitler in Germany - literally

Key points

• Mel Brooks's satire on Nazism "The Producers" may be staged in Berlin

• Brooks may test 25 Germans to "see if it works out"

Story in full THE Producers, Mel Brooks’s musical which sends up the Nazi regime and features the song Springtime For Hitler, could be opening in a surprise new venue - Berlin. A theatre company has expressed a keen interest in staging the hit Broadway show in Germany, and theatregoers are being flown from the capital to New York next month to see if they find the musical entertaining or offensive.

If they do not walk out in disgust - or manage a laugh at a chorus line of goose-stepping Nazi stormtroopers - it will get the go-ahead to open in Berlin.

The Producers is the stage version of Brooks’s Oscar-winning 1968 film and centres on the has-been producer Max Bialystock and his accountant, Leo Bloom, who set out to make a fortune by creating the world’s worst musical. They come up with Springtime For Hitler, a concept so tasteless it should be a sure-fire flop.

The musical has been Broadway’s biggest success story of recent years, winning 12 Tony Awards since it opened at the St James Theatre in 2001, with the actors Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick taking the starring roles.

Brooks suggested bringing 25 Germans of disparate age to see the show to "see if it works out - if they are upset, or if they are young enough to roll with the punches and themselves make fun of the Nazi regime".

He added: "If they like it and say, ‘This will go down nicely’, we’ll do it. They will decide whether or not this is just too unspeakably rude for the Germans.

"Some seem to like the film, but they’re kids - young and smart. Anyone over 60 might have an axe to grind."

Brooks said the production would only open in Berlin because the city was more sophisticated than the rest of Germany. He went on: "They [the audience] are being assembled in Berlin. They’ll be coming through the Lowlands - they usually do. It’s probably best to tell Holland and Belgium that the Germans are coming."

Susan Stroman, who is directing and choreographing the musical, said: "The Germans have asked for it many times. We want to get people laughing; we don’t want to offend anybody."

Brooks, 77, was in London to promote the West End production, which opens in November starring Richard Dreyfuss and Lee Evans.

Brooks cast Evans after seeing him in the 1995 film Funny Bones, describing the British comic as "a wickedly funny combination of Groucho Marx and Marcel Marceau".

 
 
 

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