Horsham hilarity with The Producers on stage

HAODS bring to the stage Mel Brooks’ Tony award winning comedy musical The Producers (Capitol, Horsham, May 10-14).

Chris Dale
Chris Dale

It’s the chance to follow the ridiculously funny endeavours of downtrodden ex-king of Broadway, Max Bialystock, as he teams up with timid accountant and wannabe theatre producer Leo Bloom to devise a foolproof get-rich-quick scheme: produce the biggest flop on Broadway. All they have to do is find the worst play ever written, hire the worst director in town and cast the worst actors imaginable…

Chris Dale, who has lived in Crawley all his life, is delighted to continue his long and happy relationship with HAODS, stepping this time into the shoes of Max Bialystock.

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“I think you can sum him up as being the glue of the show keeping all these crazy characters together. He is quite a larger than life character himself, very desperate, very passionate and he does have a lot of nods and winks with the audience. In a way he’s like the straight character among all these mad people but he is probably just as deluded as everybody else. It has meant a lot of line learning but he is just great fun to play. He used to be the king of old Broadway and put on lots of big productions but his luck has run out and all of his shows that get reviewed get criticised. He is really down on his luck and wants to be top again and when he meets Leo Blum, this accountant, Leo comes up with a plan that Max latches onto. He thinks that it is his ticket out of the dumps, a get-rich-scheme to fleece a lot of old ladies. He is bit of a rogue but a lovable rogue.

“I see him as a bit of a tragicomic character really. He is down on his luck and he is so desperate, but he’s not a cruel character. Ultimately he has a lot of heart about him.

“It is one of my favourite shows. I have been performing with HAODS on stage for ten years now. I started with them at the tender age of 25 and it was the first time I had ever stepped on stage."

“I’ve always had a flair for films but not so much musicals. I had never sung in my life and I’ve never danced but I just wanted to join a society. Really for me it was just about keeping the creative flair going. I was in a job where I was not really using those sorts of skills and I just wanted to keep that flame alive. I really enjoy creating and experimenting, and since I joined I think I have must have done more than 20 shows in all.”

Inevitably during the lockdowns it was difficult not having performance in his life: “It was quite some time really but we all kept in contact because it’s a good company like that. It’s a wonderful society in that respect. We did lots of Zoom quizzes and chats and we watched a lot of online theatre which helped pass the time but obviously that’s never as good as being actually in a theatre especially when it’s comedy and you really want to feel the feedback – especially if it’s something that you thought up in rehearsals and wonder whether it’s going to get a laugh and then you do it on stage and it happens. Comedy is very tricky. Obviously it’s all about timing but I’ve always found that laughter is the best medicine. I love to be able to make people laugh and it’s such a wonderful feeling when you do it especially at this time when there has been the pandemic and we’ve got the war going on.”

And in a sense it’s an appropriate show just now: “The show lampoons a dictator and you think perhaps it’s a bit close to home but you just never thought that we would be putting on this show at a time of war actually happening. But it is a show that puts a smile on people’s faces. Theatre is all about escapism and it’s also about being with the collective.”

Chris works in engineering: “I am good at one to one with people but trying to be me in a room of people is very difficult so when I am performing I like to be heavily disguised as a character. If it’s just me, I could not do it!

“I just like transform when I am on the stage!”

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