TERENCE BRIDGETT is on-stage again in Cape Town, playing in the Mel Brooks classic, ‘The Producers’ at Theatre on the Bay. RAFIEK MAMMON caught up with him amidst a very busy rehearsal schedule.
What have you been up to before gracing our shores to play in ‘The Producers’?
Firstly, I’m delighted to be home – and back on the boards for the first time in five years. Jozi has me pretty much attached to a camera of some sorts most of the time. I’ve been shooting a series while prepping to start filming the new KykNet Drama ‘Bewolkte Hart’, while we are performing the Jo’burg leg of ‘The Producers’. I’ve been teaching, lecturing, directing and writing. The sequel to my first one man show – a cabaret – ‘All Soaped Up: between Fact, Foam & Fiction’ is entitled ‘Oopgeskeur’ and is set to hit the festival circuit in 2021.
Who do you play and how does he fit into the bigger schemes of things?
‘The Producers’ is a Mel Brooks classic – originally a film – it was recreated for the Broadway stage to critical acclaim, numerous awards and a box office that could barely keep up with the demand. It’s both an homage and a parody of Broadway itself. Screamingly funny, utterly irreverent and deeply charming. An ‘odd couple’ of a failing Broadway producer (Alan Committie) and an aspirant accountant (Richard White) realise that they can make more money with a Broadway flop than with a hit. So they find the worst script they can lay their hands on and hire the worst director in New York in 1959 to direct it…Enter Rodger de Bris. That’s me. There are too many spoilers if I say any more, but rest assured the journey is anything but predictable.
Is this one of the those “dream roles”?
Oh, this is most certainly a ‘Bucket List’ role. I fell in love with the character when I first saw ‘The Producers’ on London’s West End in 2004. I left the theatre thinking “I have to play that part!”. It took 15 years, but here we are. Some dreams do come true…
Who else plays in it with you?
What an exciting and eclectic cast! I think I’m the most excited to be sharing this particular stage with my good friend Alan Committie – we graduated from UCT Drama School in 1995 together, but this is the first time in 25 years that we will be acting opposite one another. There’s Earl Gregory (currently slaying it as Lola in ‘Kinky Boots’) as Carmen – my ‘Common-Law Assistant’ and the diva-licious Raquel Munn as our Leading Lady ‘Ulla’ – fresh in from her European tour of ‘Chicago’. I could gush about every member of this company, but methinks you have more questions?
What have rehearsals been like?
Physically demanding, cognitively challenging and exhausting, but ultimately creatively exciting and inspiring. This is a deeply complex and ludicrously complicated production to stage. Our West End director Joe Pitcher (beyond his global career, was the man behind the magic of ‘Mathilda’ – for those of you who were fortunate enough to see it) is a delight to work with. Our Choreographer, Duane Alexander and Musical Director, Garth Tavares are both absurdly talented and they all speak the same deeply specific theatre language.
Are you a musical/drama/comedy man?
I personally think I’m better as a dramatic actor. I don’t think I would have been dubbed by the media as “South Africa’s Original Soap Slut” if I didn’t have a penchant for drama. I know that I have been tasked with playing many comedy roles, but I don’t consider myself to be particularly funny. As far as musicals are concerned – bring it on! I love musical theatre. Alas, I’m not a triple threat (like most of our company); I’m an actor that can sing and dance – in decreasing order of proficiency as you move down that list.
Why should people see ‘The Producers’, other than the fact that you are in it?
‘The Producers’ is without a doubt one of the funniest, most irreverent and deeply charming productions that I have ever seen. It’s a serious rollercoaster ride of fast paced comedy, with some of the most eccentric characters you’ll ever meet with extraordinary tap sequences (Duane Alexander is bringing it home on a global scale). Seriously huge Old School ‘MGM’ musical arrangements and one of the funniest men in the world – Alan Committie – leading you through a belly-laugh extravaganza. I don’t know how else to explain it – for what it’s worth: I would probably see this show more than once as an audience member…in case I missed anything.
* ‘The Producers’ runs at Theatre on the Bay from February 4 and at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre in Johannesburg from April 3.
Tickets are available from Computicket, with discounts for groups, students and senior citizens.