Discovering Mel Brooks in Spain

by Julia Nathan

While I have seen the famous Mel Brooks musical “The Producers,” I have never seen it in English. Instead, last winter, I saw “Los Productores” in Madrid.

One day, while my father was discussing sightseeing options with the hotel receptionist, I noticed a pile of glossy tourism catalogues. I flipped through one and quickly found a selection of shows.

“Is that… The Producers?” asked my father as he turned to me with his gleaming gray eyes. I smiled and turned to the receptionist.

“Is the show in English or Spanish?”

“That is in Spanish,” she replied.

We got tickets.

The show was being performed at a very traditional Spanish theater. The ushers—all beautiful women—were dressed in matching uniforms, complete with little jaunty caps placed delicately over their slicked-back hair. While waiting in the lobby, we noticed the many stares we received as we casually spoke in English. A song came on as we waited: “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” from “Cabaret.” It was sung in Spanish. I laughed.

At intermission, refreshments were served at the front of the theater. Soda was poured into ice-filled champagne flutes, which we brought back to our seats. Such a treat is unheard of on Broadway, so I sipped my Fanta greedily, like I was doing something deliciously wrong.

The show itself was relatively easy to understand, despite the different language. The show contained a lot of slapstick comedy, which is the same in any language, and we were entertained by their musical renditions. Instead of “We Can Do It,” Max Bialystock sang “Es Posible,” and “La Primavera Para Hitler” lost none of its hilarity in our translation.

Regardless of the language barrier, my father and I were the only ones laughing at many of the funniest parts of the show. There is something about Hitler that Spanish people can’t find funny.

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