The Producers at York Little Theatre
"The Producers" opens July 12 at York Little Theatre. Zany attire not required, but keep your eyes open for lots of fun costumes and hijinks on stage. (York Little Theatre photo)

York Little Theatre artistic director Rene Staub is filled to bursting with excitement over "The Producers."

"The chemistry is spectacular, the leads are phenomenal, the voices are extraordinary," he says. "It's a huge production."

The Tony-winning musical comedy starts this weekend at the theater, the culmination of weeks of effort by dozens of contributors both on stage and behind the scenes.

"You have to worry about timing because of the comedy. You have to worry about the numerous choreographed numbers. There's a lot of intricacies," Staub says in describing the organized chaos at rehearsals. "The costuming alone was a huge undertaking."

The show: That's no surprise for a show known for its over-the-top whimsy and flamboyance. The main characters are, after all, attempting to scam their backers into funding the most expensive flop in history so they can run off with the money. Producing a hit wasn't in the plan.

"The role of Max is very demanding," Staub says.

Max, played by Nathan Lane in the original Broadway run and by Randy Staam in the York Little Theatre show, is the sly dog who cooks up the scheme with his accountant.

"When he sings his 'Betrayed' number, I really respect the amount of stamina it takes to get through the number, because he basically acts out the entire show in that song," Staub says.

Content: Whether audiences have seen the Mel Brooks movie where the idea originated, the Broadway show based on it, the movie based on the Broadway show based on the movie (yes, really) or have never encountered "The Producers" at all, they're likely to be aware of three little words that have entered the cultural lexicon: "Springtime for Hitler."

"The cast has as much fun as the show is funny," Staub says. "'Springtime for Hitler' probably takes the most effort from the entire cast, and it's funny."

The director does caution parents to consider whether the material is appropriate for young children, as some adult language and situations crop up.

In general, though, "it's a fast-moving show," he says. "There's something for everyone's taste."

Debut: "The Producers" is Staub's directing debut with the theater after joining the nonprofit organization as the artistic director earlier this year. A longtime director and set designer, the 45-year-old from McSherrystown, Adams County, has settled into the role with a kind of blissful satisfaction.

"I love it, I love the job, it's my life," he says. "It's extremely exciting in this day and age of people worrying about the economy and schools trying to cut arts programs that the arts are thriving here at York Little Theatre."

The theater's new, grander sound system also will debut with the show, and the recently announced 2013-14 season features several family-friendly productions including "The Little Mermaid Jr.," "Willy Wonka the Musical," "101 Dalmatians" and more.

"The season will be a wild ride into everyone's imagination," Staub says. "I've always wanted to do this on a full-time basis, and it's great to have a place like York Little Theatre where I can fulfill that dream."

- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.

See the show

The musical comedy "The Producers" opens Friday at York Little Theatre, 27 S. Belmont St., Spring Garden Township.

Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13, and July 18-20 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 14, and July 21.

The show contains some adult themes and language unsuitable for young children.

Tickets are $23 for adults, $21 for seniors and $18 for students.

For more information, call (717) 854-5715 or visit www.ylt.org.