The Producers is based around the character of Max Bialystock, a down and out Broadway producer whose latest work flopped on opening night. Max, plagued by his former success and scrabbling to stay afloat, experiences a change in fortune when downtrodden accountant, Leo Bloom, discovers there is money to be made in Max’s theatrical failure. As a result, the two formerly defeated business men form an unlikely union with the goal of creating the world’s worst musical. The plot develops as the duo enlists the help of ridiculous and often farcical characters on the way such as former Nazi and on-going Third Reich enthusiast Franz Liebkind, Ulla the blonde bombshell secretary/receptionist and the flamboyant homosexual director Roger De Bris. As a result of the characters combined brainpower and ludicrous behaviour Spring Time for Hitler is born in Broadway.
Set in New York in 1959, the show opens with Max Bialystock’s musical version of Hamlet, “Funny Boy” closing after one terrible performance [Opening Night]. Max tells a seedy crowd of his past achievements and vows to make a victorious comeback to his former glory [King of Broadway].
The following day a nervy accountant, Leo Bloom, visits Max’s office to assess his books however Leo is told to wait in the bathroom as an ‘investor’ of Max’s (an old lady that deals in sexual favours) visits the office, leaving Max with a cheque to invest in his next play. Whilst in the toilet, Leo reveals his secret dream of becoming a Broadway producer. After a rocky start with Max, Leo announces that he has found a problem with Max’s accounts: he has raised more money for the play than he spent putting it on. This leads Leo to the realisation that a producer could make more money with a flop than a hit. In light of this information Max proposes the ultimate scheme: to find the worst play to be directed by the worst director in town to be opened with the worst cast on Broadway. Meanwhile the pair will raise two million dollars from old lady investors, open and swiftly close the failed show and move to Rio with their two million dollar profit.
Despite his initial refusal [We Can Do It] a bad day at the accounting office leads Leo to dream of his potential life as a producer [I Wanna Be a Producer] resulting in him quitting his dreary 9-5 and agreeing to Max’s scheme [We Can Do It (Reprise)].
The next day the pair embark upon the quest of finding the worst play ever written. Eventually Max stumbles upon a definite theatrical bomb: Spring Time for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf Hitler and Berchtesgaden, written by former Nazi Franz Liebkind. Max and Leo go to the playwright’s home to discover him reminiscing about the former glory days of the Third Reich [In Old Bavaria]. Liebkind agrees to sign an agreement with the producers so long as they promise never to dishonour the legacy of “Adolf Elizabeth Hitler” and the pair join Liebkind in singing Hitler’s favourite song, Der Guten Tag Hop Clop, to seal the deal.
The producers then go in search of a terrible director, calling upon the overtly glitzy, gay Roger De Bris to take on the challenge. At first Roger and his assistant Carmen Ghia refuse the offer due to the play’s political subject matter [Keep It Gay] however Max persuades them with the prospect of fame and fortune and Roger agrees with the proviso that the play is altered so that the Germans win the war.
On returning to the office Max and meet with Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yansen Tallen Hallen Svaden Swanson who wishes to act in their forthcoming production. The producers are wowed by Ulla’s beauty in her audition [When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It] and decide to hire her as their “secretary-slash-receptionist” instead.
Act one closes with Max setting out to call upon the little old ladies of New York [Along Came Baily] to raise the two million dollars needed for the show, which he does [Act I Finale]
Ulla, having redecorated the office, finds herself alone with Leo in Max’s absence. The pair begin to fall for one another [That Face]. Max returns and also succumbs to Ulla’s beauty [That Face (Reprise 1)].
During the auditions for the role of Hitler a string of questionable actors are rejected by Roger. In a burst of energy and inspiration Franz performs his own rendition of Haben Sie Gehört Das Deutsche Band which lands him the lead.
Disaster strikes on opening night [It’s Bad Luck to Say ‘Good Luck’ on Opening Night] as Franz takes a tumble down the stairs and ironically breaks his leg resulting in a last minute cast change with Roger becoming the new and extremely gay Hitler. The curtain rises on the show and Max and Leo watch in delight at the unfolding theatrical disaster [Springtime for Hitler (Part 1), Heil Myself, Springtime for Hitler (Part 2)]. Unfortunately the audience mistake Roger’s outrageously camp performance for satire and the show receives great praise and popularity.
Back at the office things have gone from bad to worse for the producers [Where Did We Go Right]. Roger and Carmen arrive to congratulate them only to discover the pair fighting. In a fit of rage over Roger’s disrespectful portrayal of the almighty Hitler, Franz bursts in the office with a gun. Max begs him to spare them, suggesting he shoot the actors instead. Police hear the scuffle and arrest both Max and Franz, who comically breaks his other leg in his attempt to escape. Ulla finds Leo hiding and convinces him that the two of them should take the two million dollars and run away to Rio instead [That Face (Reprise 2)].
Reeling in jail, Max receives a postcard from Leo in Rio and sings Betrayed. Leo and Ulla arrive at Max’s trial in an attempt to convince the judge that Max is a good man [Tell Him]. Subsequently the Judge is moved and becomes convinced of Max’s respectability. He decides to sends the producers, along with Franz, to Sing Sing prison for five years.
During their jail time, Max and Leo write a new Broadway musical starring Roger and Ulla [Prisoners of Love]. The pair are set free by the Governor and the producers become celebrated Broadway kings who walk away in a cheery sunset ending [Leo & Max]. In true Broadway style the cast comes back for one last song in which they tell the audience they have to leave [Goodbye!]
- Opening Night—Usherettes and Company
- The King of Broadway—Max and Company
- We Can Do It—Max and Leo
- I Wanna Be a Producer—Leo, Showgirls, and Accountants
- We Can Do It (Reprise)—Leo and Max
- I Wanna Be a Producer (Reprise)—Leo and Max
- In Old Bavaria—Franz
- Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop—Franz, Leo and Max
- Keep It Gay—Roger, Carmen, Max, Leo, Production Team, and Company
- When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It—Ulla
- Along Came Bialy—Max and Company
- Act I Finale—Max, Leo, Ulla, Franz, Roger, Carmen, Production Team, and Company
- That Face—Leo and Ulla
- That Face (Reprise 1)—Leo and Max
- Haben Sie gehört das deutsche Band?—Franz
- Opening Night (Reprise)—Usherettes
- You Never Say ‘Good Luck’ on Opening Night—Roger, Carmen, Franz, Leo, and Max
- Springtime for Hitler (Part 1)—Lead Tenor Stormtrooper, Barvarian Peasants, Tapping Brown-Shirts, Showgirls, Ulla, and Company
- Heil Myself—Roger, Ulla, Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt
- Springtime for Hitler (Part 2)—Roger, Ulla, and Company
- Where Did We Go Right?—Leo and Max
- That Face (Reprise 2)—Ulla and Leo
- Till Him—Leo, Max, and Little Old Ladies
- Prisoners of Love—Roger, Ulla, and Company
- Leo and Max—Max, Leo, and Company