A bawdy breakthrough

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Israeli auds can’t get enough of “The Producers.”

Originally slated for a short run of 50 shows at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater, the Mel Brooks stage tuner has been extended to the end of the year following rave reviews and sellout crowds. To date, some 50,000 Israelis have flocked to see the show, which features a goose-stepping Hitler and sidekicking Nazis — all performed in Hebrew by a cast of 80 Israeli actors.

In a country where the Holocaust remains a highly emotional subject, producers were braced for protests.

“I’ve been surprised by the fact there have been no real complaints at all. It’s been a great success,” says director Micah Levensohn.

The idea to bring the show to Israel originally came from theater manager Noam Semel, who contacted Brooks personally. The answer from the 80-year-old funnyman was an immediate yes.

While the Israeli version is largely faithful to Brooks’ original, some changes have been made to accommodate local sensibilities: Whenever main characters Bialystock and Bloom mention the name “Hitler,” they spit and utter the Hebrew curse, “May his name be erased.”

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