One of the most successful shows in Broadway history is coming to Moline’s Spotlight Theatre, and the usually family-friendly venue is warning some patrons.

“KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! This show is written by Mel Brooks,” the Spotlight says on its website of the gleefully boundary-pushing comedy legend and the musical “The Producers.” “If you are bringing children, I highly recommend you look into the appropriateness of the show. There is some language and a lot of innuendo.”

“The Producers” features Max Robnett, left, Chris Tracy, Joel Kolander, Nancy Teerlinck and Brycen Witt.

The four leads of the new “Producers” (directed by Brent Tubbs) – which premiered in 2001 and swept the Tonys, winning a record 12 – can’t wait to be all about that innuendo.

“I’ve been itching to do this since college,” Joel Kolander (who plays the wild director Roger De Bris in his Spotlight debut) said Tuesday. “I don’t enjoy the humor so much as everybody else’s reaction to it.”

He cited the show’s most famous number, “Springtime for Hitler,” as the prime hilarious example. Kolander’s character – the gay, flamboyant, campy director — is also a hoot.

“On the echelon of shock humor, you have a gay Hitler. That’s about as good as it gets,” he said. “There are a lot of shocked faces in the audience.”

Roger requires over-the-top comic acting, and needs to have one of the best and strongest voices in the show, according to a synopsis.

Some people might come to see “The Producers” and not remember what’s in the supremely silly show, even if they are familiar with the title, Kolander said.

“It swept the Tonys; it’s a big show,” Chris Tracy (a Spotlight veteran who plays Max Bialystock) said. “It was a big deal back then. The last time they did it in Chicago was 2019, before COVID. It was a reimagining of it.”

QC Music Guild did it as their spring show in 2009.

Oscar-winning film, record-breaking Tonys

“The Producers” has music and lyrics by Mel Brooks (based on his Oscar-winning 1967 film starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder), and a book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan.

The original Broadway production starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, opening in 2001, and won a record 12 Tony Awards (“Hamilton” later won 11).

The story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by fraudulently overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful.

The humor of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of gay people and Nazis, and many show business in-jokes, according to a summary.

The original Broadway production in 2001 starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick as Max and Leo, and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. It was adapted into a 2005 film version.

Chris Tracy is playing Max, and saw the original cast in Chicago (before Broadway) in 2001. “I’ve been a Mel Brooks fan for a long time,” he said Tuesday.

Despite “The Producers” being Brooks’ first full musical, Tracy said the songs are incredible – with wit, humor and intelligence.

The big number featuring old ladies with walkers includes Heather Jo Whan, left, Annie Huston, Becca Johnson, Christianna Crosby and Grace Wiborg.

“Mel Brooks was a drummer when he started out, and everything he writes has its own rhythm,” he added. “That follows through to these songs. His wife, Anne Bancroft, basically forced him to turn this into a musical.”

Many people recommended he turn the film into a musical. Tracy said Brooks originally wanted to call the movie “Springtime for Hitler,” but the studio made him change that (the only thing in the movie he had to change).

Musical within a musical

“Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden” is the fictional musical within “The Producers” (film and stage version). It’s a musical about the Nazi dictator, written by Franz Liebkind, an unbalanced ex-Nazi originally played by Kenneth Mars (and later by Brad Oscar and Will Ferrell in the stage musical and the 2005 film, respectively).

Max Robnett, left, plays Leo, Noah Hill plays Franz, and Chris Tracy is Max.

To ensure that the play in “The Producers” is a total failure, Max chooses this tasteless script (which he describes as “practically a love letter to Adolf Hitler”), and hires the worst director he can find (Roger DeBris), a stereotypical homosexual and transvestite caricature.

The musical within a musical is described “as an equal opportunity offender: Jews are portrayed as so greedy they make merchandise out of Hitler, gay men are lispy and limp-wristed — and sexually depraved old women struggle to a sexual fling on their walkers,” according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The character Max is based on someone Brooks actually worked for, Tracy said.

Tracy bases his portrayal more on Zero Mostel, the ‘60s Broadway star who had leads in “Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“He was just iconic, so my thought process was, what if he were in the musical?” Tracy said. “Try to blend with a little homage here and there to Nathan Lane, but also try to do some of my own stuff up there, hoping it works.”

It’s also the latest time he’s played a “Max” character – including in “The Sound of Music,” “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.”

Max Robnett (center) with Annie Huston, left, Heather Jo Whan, Christianna Crosby, Haley Tromblee, and Kristen Marietta.

His “Producers” co-star is actually a Max – Max Robnett (as Leo Bloom), who was also in “Sound of Music” at Spotlight, another musical with Nazis.

“I was the sweetest Nazi in all of Austria,” Robnett said Tuesday, noting his next musical has to be “Cabaret,” also set against the backdrop of Nazis (in 1930s Berlin).

He’s nervous about being a copycat of a nebbishy Matthew Broderick, and is confident he’s just different enough.

“It’s not to emulate, especially when you have such iconic people playing such iconic roles,” Tracy said of the Broadway stars. “They were all so good. It was the perfect formula at the perfect time, so you have the desire to bring that same energy to the role, but at the same time, it’s not the Broadway show. It’s not the Off-Broadway show, or the Off-Off-Broadway show.”

“We’re doing our version,” he said. “We have a few moments that are definitely our own.”

“The Producers” features an ultimate odd couple, with Max and Leo. Max is described as the consummate con man, animated, bombastic, and frantic. Leo is the timid, naïve and meek accountant.

“I’m naturally a neurotic, paranoid person, so playing an anxious person comes very naturally,” Robnett joked. He and Tracy are both big fans of the show.

“He’s very knowledgeable about the show, so was very helpful,” Robnett said. “We were pretty much set to run on day one.”

“Your jets were on at the read-through,” Kolander marveled.

Having more fun as blonde

Kirsten Sindelar is in her fourth Spotlight show – she has been in “The Wedding Singer,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Lightning Thief.” She plays the Swedish blonde bombshell Ulla, after friends of hers recommended she try out.

Kirsten Sindelar is Ulla Inga Hansen Benson Yonsen Tallen-hallen Svaden-svanson in “The Producers” at Moline’s Spotlight Theatre.

“I got it and I am having the best time,” Sindelar (a Circa ’21 Bootlegger) said. “I get to keep my blonde hair,” which the former brunette has had since February.

Kolander is in his first Spotlight show, after several at Music Guild. He was in “Cats” with Sindelar, and was in “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Beauty and the Beast” at Guild.

“Being half-Swedish helps a little bit,” Sindelar said of Ulla. Her highlight is during her entrance, right before intermission – kind of an audition song called “If You Got It, Flaunt It.”

“It’s all the breath I can muster to get through it and dance,” Sindelar said.

The Spotlight music director is Chad Schmertmann, and choreographer is Shana Kulhavy.

An over-the-top style

The former Scottish Rite Cathedral at 1800 7th Ave., Moline (which opened as the Spotlight in 2018) is definitely the largest stage and space Robnett has performed in, which affects the actors’ style.

“This stage has a lot more freedom of movement,” he said. “You can play it to the back row here, definitely.”

“And that fits the style of the show,” Sindelar said of its big, over-the-top nature. “Above and beyond is what it is.”

A kick line features (from left) Kristen Marietta, Haley Tromblee, Max Robnett, Christianna Crosby, Heather Jo Whan, Annie Huston, and Grace Wiborg.

“I’m excited it’s a larger space,” Kolander said. “All I want for Roger is this constant energy. You bounce around, pinball around.”

“The hardest thing for in the show is, everything’s funny and I am trying not to laugh up there,” Sindelar said

The orchestra pit actually plays way up high in the back loft at the theater, and they are amplified through on-stage speakers.

“Everything’s possible with technology,” Robnett said.

“The Producers” will be performed Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 7, 8 at 7 p.m., and Sundays, Oct. 2 and 9 at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, click HERE.