IT’S almost 50 years since Mel Brooks’ film The Producers blazed on to the silver screen in a riot of mayhem, madness and musical glory.

Causing equal amounts of fanfare and controversy, the madcap caper featuring dancing Nazis, libidinous grandmas and showgirls was ultimately adapted in to a musical and went on to storm Broadway, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards for its first run.

Pitching up at the Liverpool Empire Theatre this week, this latest production starring comedians Jason Manford and Ross Noble proves that the show still packs enough energy, verve and laughs to bring audiences to their feet.

Manford stars as shy accountant Leo Bloom alongside Cory English who plays down-on-his luck Broadways producer Max Bialystock. Together, the pair hatch a plot to deliberately stage a ‘flop’ musical after Bloom discovers Max could make more profit from a turkey than a hit.

The two eventually alight upon a guaranteed flop, a play called ‘Springtime For Hitler’, written by a neo-Nazi pigeon-fancier called Franz Liebkind (Ross Noble), and recruit ‘the worst director in town’, flamboyant showman Roger De Bris, to direct it.

The result is an outrageous, camp, glittering interpretation of Hitler and the Third Reich which proves to be an unexpected hit, scuppering the plans of Bialystock and Bloom and torpedoing their dreams of making a million.

Jason Manford is a revelation as meek and mild-mannered Leo Bloom, who daydreams of breaking free from the drudgery of his dreary life to make it as a Broadway producer.

Who knew that the salt-of-the-earth comedian from Salford who once graced the sofa of The One Show could sing, dance, act and pull off a flawless Manhattan accent?

Manford is a born musical theatre star; his tone, diction and delivery is more polished and precise than other established performers I’ve seen who have come up through the traditional stage school route and his comic timing, naturally, is perfect.

Cory English as Max Bialystock is sensational with a commanding and endearing stage presence that belies his diminutive size. Together, the two have a charming chemistry that has the audience rooting for the wily pair all along their Swastika-strewn journey.

Ross Noble was born to play the raving, frenzied Franz Liebkind and he does so with manic energy and just the right amount of nuttiness for the fanatical, Adolf-adoring playwright.

And David Bedella is a magnificent Roger De Bris, gliding across the stage in a haze of bling and glitter; his bejewelled, Liberace-esque Hitler is a joy to behold.

This is a no-holds-barred, raucous, bawdy belter of a show; a big, glossy production with all the show-stopping songs, dance routines and set pieces you would expect from a classic Broadway musical.

Those who are of a gentle disposition may bristle at the ribald humour and sight of the Empire festooned in Nazi insignia but the clever, camp lampooning of Hitler through Max and Leo’s screwball capers prove an excellent foil to any potential discomfort.

The laughs come thick and fast and the pace of the production never lets up for a second, creating an electric energy in the auditorium that had the audience beaming from ear to ear.

The rapturous, standing ovations that congratulated the cast as the glittering curtain fell was testament to the joy felt by the Empire crowd for the treat they’d just experienced.

Not a single person was left in their seat, and it was hardly a surprise. Just like ‘Springtime For Hitler’, this version of The Producers is a must-see sensation that is far from a flop.

Five Stars *****

The Producers is at The Liverpool Empire Theatre until Starurday June 6. For more information and to book tickets visit