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November 3, 2011 - 5:37pm

Batavia Rotary 'produces' laughs in 63rd annual show

posted by Gretel Kauffman in batavia, theater, Rotary Club, the producers.

Theater has long been thought of as a place where one can transform into someone else and lose touch with reality completely. This is particularly true for Eric Zweld, who has the "flamboyant" role of Roger DeBris in this weekend's Batavia Rotary Club production of "The Producers."

"When I go to a show I forget about the real world," says the construction project manager as he applies fake eyelashes and shimmering makeup. According to Zweld, there are "zero similarities" between himself and his character, who he describes as "very secure in his gayness." "I only wear these every other day," he jokes of the eyelashes. "I don't want the guys finding out."

Steve Valvano of Gates feels similarly toward his character of Max Bialystock, a "down-and-out" Broadway producer who "will take advantage of anyone and anything" to get what he wants: money. After Bialystock discovers that he can make more from a flop than he can from a successful show, he and accountant Leo Bloom set out to make the worst show ever, resulting in hilarity and a distinct lack of political correctness.

"It's an amazing challenge, and I like challenges," Valvano says. "The comedy is very physical. The whole show is very physical. I have to work at it just to keep up."

Cal Young, who plays Leo Bloom, is different from his castmates in that he seems to be the only one who truly identifies with his role.

"He's a scaredy little accountant nerd," he explains. "We're definitely very similar. He's very nerdy and just generally unversed in the ways of the world."

Young, like many of his fellow cast members, cites the show as a longtime favorite. But be warned: "The Producers," with its mature content and off-color jokes, is not for everybody.

"I felt it was an interesting change from the past two shows," says director Lynda Hodgins. "They were very family-friendly, very children-oriented."

Zweld and Valvano agree, describing the show as "an equal opportunity offender" and something that "a mature audience will have a ball with."

Hodgins describes the show as "PG-13."

"[The audience] will be fine if they get the fact that it's (written by) Mel Brooks," she explains. "You have to get his humor. There's nothing hidden, no subliminal messages. It's all out there, and when things are right in your face it becomes extremely comical. It's not a conservative show. It puts every stereotype out there. This is for people who like to laugh."

Showtimes: Nov. 3, 4, and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 2 p.m.

Where: Batavia High School Auditorium, 260 State St., Batavia

Ticket prices: $12 for Thursday, $15 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Where to purchase tickets: At the door or online at www.bataviarotary.com or www.encoretheatrearts.com or in person at Lawley Insurance, Jefferson Square, Batavia or The Insurance Center, 50 Main St., Batavia, during regular business hours.

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