- PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDRA CORTEZ
Donna Sellars Ryan [Cordero]—director of The Producers and founder and executive director of Sorcerer Productions—really likes working at the Clark Center. It has a beautiful stage and has all of the technological things we need.
New Times What is your role in The Producers?
Sellars I am the business manager and producer and I’m working on the business and marketing end. I have a little cameo in the show.
New Times What is GALA’s role with the show?
Sellars They are our premiere sponsor. Ryan knows them well, and our opening night was a benefit for them.
New Times It was movie first, then a musical, then a movie again. What is this production based on?
Sellars Ryan really wanted to stick with what Mel Brooks wrote and the original choreography (by Susan Stroman) and stick with the original intent with the show. A few things are changed and Ryan wanted to put his touch on it a bit, but really he wanted the cast to focus on what Brooks wrote—he wrote them for a specific reason, no improvisation. The words are brilliant. It is very similar to what you would see if you were to see it on Broadway.
New Times This is a 40-year-old musical. How is it still fresh today?
Sellars It’s just plain funny. It’s about someone who is down on their luck and he meets someone and a friendship is formed and an idea comes about to make both of their lives better. This is a story that could be applied to any era. It is based in the ’50s but you can’t tell, other than the costumes. With the doom and gloom of today, it’s something that you can walk away from having laughed a lot.
New Times What is your favorite part?
Sellars I like the way that it’s a spoof of Broadway—from the actors, to the directors, even the tech people. “Keep it Gay” is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in my life. “Spring Time for Hitler” is also technologically challenging and the visual effect is amazing. There is really good music. Everyone who sees it says it’s highly entertaining.
New Times Tell me about Dave Becker and the live orchestra.
Sellars Becker took the entire score that is meant for an entire orchestra and scaled it down for six musicians to play. No one can believe it’s only six people performing in the pit. This show needs a live orchestra and it’s phenomenal.
New Times Who are you, Natalia?
Natalia Berryman I’m the executive producer, so I am funding the play. I also play an artistic role—dance captain—and I’m also part of the ensemble.
New Times What is your familiarity with The Producers?
Berryman I’m very familiar with the movies, and so is Ryan. He really had a vision when directing this show. It’s a big risk to do this show but we have the talent here and we pulled it off.
New Times What is your background in the arts?
Berryman I started at PCPA in ’94. Then I went to school and spent a year at CSU Fullerton. Then I started directing at Atascadero High in ’97. Susie Miller invited me to do Razzle Dazzle that year as well. Being a producer with Ryan is a passion of mine. And I’m directing How to Succeed in Business in November at SLO Little Theatre.
New Times What is your favorite part of the show?
Berryman When the chemistry is on between Max and Leo—Dana Shaheen and Jeff Salsbury. Watching both of them—they feed off of each other, energy wise, and they create an amazing team.
Christy Heron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.