Tuesday night, Sarah and I attended a show by the touring production of the Broadway show, “The Producers”.
The show was given at Madison’s new, and generally revered, Overture Center. The Overture Center is a new arts center in the heart of Downtown that was 100% funded by private donations, all from one local couple. The building itself has clean lines, plenty of glass, airy spaces, and is a generally nice facility. Certainly it is a vast improvement on what it replaced.
We saw “The Producers” in Overture Hall, which is the centerpiece of the Overture Center. The hall seats just over 2200 people and is really an impressive facility for a city the size of Madison.
The show itself was really quite a contrast. The first act, and the first half of the second act, are frenetic, riotous, and funny. It is really Mel Brooks at his best. The staging and scenery are superb. The actors and acrtresses seemed well rehearsed, and enthusiastic.
Where the show really drags is in the second half of the second act. Both Sarah and I felt that it was as if Mel Brooks simply ran out steam, and spent a good half-hour writing a dull and untidy end to the show. In fact, the ending is so awful, that it really casts quite a shadow across the first three quarters of the play. It made me wonder just how awful many of the other plays on Broadway were that this show won as many awards as it did.
In addition to a clunker of an ending, the seats in Overture Hall are just as painful. The geometry on the (sparkling new) seats is just enough out of whack as to make sitting in them for the better part of three hours an endurance event.
There is absolutely no way to sit comfortably in those seats. I’m not the tallest person I know, but I am taller than average, so I’m used to sitting in confined areas while taking in cultural events. It’s just the price I pay for being able to reach items on the top shelf. And, it isn’t as though I’m too wide for the seats. In fact, there were several inches of seat on either side of me that I wasn’t using.
At intermission, the gentleman seated next to me (who I didn’t know), started a conversation with me about how uncomfortable the seats were and how his knees were aching. I expressed similar sentiments as I had spent all of the first act trying to find a comfortable position in which to sit. Sarah, who isn’t as tall as myself or the gentleman next to me, expressed the same frustration.
So, there were the three of us, having paid a non-trivial amount of money to see a show, sitting in a brand-new building, with sparkling new seats, complaining how the seats were actually less comfortable than many aluminum bleachers we’ve used over time at various sporting events. Clearly, there is something wrong with the seating at Overture Hall.