February is generally known for snow, groundhogs and overspending on roses and heart-shaped chocolates. This year, however, at least for theatre lovers here in Salt Lake City, February will also be full of song, dance and hilarity when the Tony Award-winning hit musical “The Producers” brings its comedic genius to the Capitol Theatre stage from Feb. 2 to 7.
“The Producers” is a musical adapted from a 1968 film of the same name and produced by Mel Brooks. The story follows the exploits of two money-hungry theatrical producers who scheme to trick investors into supporting a Broadway flop while secretly pocketing all the cash. The musical opened in April of 2001, starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, and ended up winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards while spawning a 2005 film version with Broderick and Lane reprising their respective roles.
“Mel Brooks is just a homerun. He is so ridiculously funny, and I still catch myself laughing at jokes that I have been delivering for months,” said Michael O’Connor, a member of the ensemble cast. “It’s the way he sets up his humor as a one-two punch along with extremely well-developed characters that are living in a world of absurdity.”
O’Connor grew up watching Mel Brooks movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles.” He starred in “The Producers” while in college at SUNY New Paltz and fell in love. It’s what made him want to pursue theatre as a career. After graduating in 2014 he moved to New York City and was working in a dinner theatre when he went to an open call for “The Producers” and, to his surprise, landed a role in the musical.
“It’s something I didn’t expect to be happening so soon. To get the call for my first real big boy job was just so surreal and exciting,” O’Connor said. “The whole experience has been eye-opening. I’m so happy and humbled to be part of this production.”
While O’Connor admits he was fortunate to land a job doing exactly what he always dreamed of doing right after graduating from college, he has advice for current students who are chasing dreams of their own.
“Patience is huge. You can’t just graduate and expect people to just hand you jobs. There is a lot of hard work, dedication and patience,” O’Connor said. “You just have to trust it will eventually happen and that you have a great support system in place.”
Initially O’Connor was concerned about maintaining his enthusiasm for the show as the current tour has nearly 100 productions spanning five months. Most of the shows he did in college only ran for a few weekends and so he was worried that he might get bored with it. However, “The Producers” is one of those rare shows where the humor never gets old and, if anything, gets better.
“I sit in the wings watching sometimes and constantly find myself laughing at all the jokes,” O’Connor said. “I’m still having fun, and the fact we keep changing venues every couple of shows helps keep things fresh and keeps me on my toes.”
The cast is thrilled about their upcoming visit to Salt Lake City, as it represents the longest stay of their entire tour and a chance to get some well-deserved rest while performing in front of what will likely be a packed house every night of its limited run.
“We are all super excited about Salt Lake,” O’Connor said. “We are excited to perform for any audience who is willing to invest the time to come see us. This is a show for people who want to laugh their butts off at these ridiculously larger-than-life characters. Salt Lake City, we are coming for you.”
A limited amount of tickets are still available at the Capitol Theatre box office and online at http://saltlakecity.broadway.com.