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Mass-Market Comedy: How Mel Brooks Adapted The Producers for Broadway, and Made a Billion Dollars 2001 2007

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Studies carried out by Susan Bennett (1997), Jonathan Burston (1998) and Maurya Wickstrom (1999) suggest that American theatre has become a massculture business. This critique is now even more apparent given the current state of Broadway comedy best exemplified by Mel Brooks's adaptations of his film The Producers (1968), including his Broadway show The Producers (2001) and his movie remake of that show, The Producers (2005). Brooks's original film may have been topical, shocking and full of controversy, but by 2001 those same old gags about Nazis, dumb blondes and homosexuals had become outdated. For this reason, the international acclaim of The Producers (2001) with theatre critics, as well as the critical backlash by many film critics, illustrates scholars' observations namely that modern Broadway's mass audience is not necessarily interested in provocative or original comedy but applauds recycled jokes.

Keywords: Broadway; Mel Brooks; The Producers; adaptation; comedy; taste

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Nottingham.

Publication date: 2008-06-03

More about this publication?
  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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