Meet the pigeons: Otto, Heinz, Heidi and Wolfgang.
And we can't forget Adolf, of course.
There are many talented folks in the Good Company Players production of "The Producers," which opens tonight at Roger Rocka's Dinner Theatre in a return engagement featuring much of the original 2008 cast. From the blustery Max Bialystock (Darren Tharp) and mousy Leo Bloom (Peter Allwine) to the so-gay-he-nearly-flies-away Roger De Bris (Steve Souza), this breezy Mel Brooks musical comedy offers a slew of memorable characters as it spins a tale of a couple of scamming producers trying to mount the worst Broadway musical ever.
One group of actors extremely popular with audiences remains pretty much unknown, however: the large and surprisingly melodic pigeons belonging to Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind (played with a forceful Aryan gusto by longtime GCP performer John Masier).
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These beloved birds live on a New York rooftop. They're background players in a scene in which Max and Leo try to secure the rights to the musical "Springtime for Hitler" from Franz, who obviously dotes on his fine feathered friends.
With a little help from Masier, we sat down with Franz to learn more about these talented creatures.
Question: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Franz. I'm sure you're quite busy these days glorifying the Third Reich through sunny Broadway musicals.
Answer: Willkommen. I've worked on "Springtime for Hitler" for the last 15 years. I just want to make sure people realize that the Führer was really a talented song-and-dance man -- sort of like Christopher Walken. They don't realize that about him, too.
Tell us about your pigeons.
Ah, my lieblings. I have five. They're my family. Of course, Adolf is a born leader. He's my favorite, but don't tell the others that. Heidi is the most headstrong of the others. She doesn't take any nonsense from anybody. Heinz is the clingy one. He always needs a little more TLC. Wolfgang kind of does whatever Heidi tells him to. Otto is the artistic one. He's always singing; he's always flying just for the fun of it. We have to keep his head in the game sometimes.
How are you allowed to keep pigeons on the roof?
I have a special arrangement with my landlord. I think he's a little afraid of me. He lets me do whatever I want.
The infantry helmet and lederhosen probably help. What do you feed them?
A very special blend of enriched bird feed and puppy chow. It keeps them kind of aggressive.
Where did you get them? I don't mean to be insulting, but they seem, well, a little large.
They were racing pigeons. I saved them from a trip to the feather pillow factory. Today I use them as messenger pigeons to communicate with some of my business associates in Argentina. They were raised near a nuclear facility, which is why they're so huge.
Let's talk about you. How did you end up in New York?
I was a playwright in Germany during the war -- which I had nothing to do with! -- and was always fascinated by Broadway musicals. I wrote many popular plays that were stolen by Rodgers and Hammerstein -- those filthy, thieving hacks. I wrote "O, Bavaria," they stole it and made it "Oklahoma!" I wrote "North Atlantic," you know what happened to that. "The Sound of Streudel" was mine. They took it, changed it to a nun and added all those kids. So I came to New York to find Rodgers and Hammerstein and get my revenge.
Is there a Mrs. Liebkind?
I guess you could say I'm a confirmed bachelor. I have a long-distance relationship with a lady in Düsseldorf. She has doves.
Speaking of romance, do your pigeons, um, fraternize with each other?
I wasn't going to say anything, but there was an incident with Heidi and Otto. There were some eggs. I had to send them away. They went to a farm upstate.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Well, no, Dietrich -- oh, was it Donald? Sorry. I think I've gotten my message out. It's such a privilege to be associated with this production. And remember: Everyone always loves the pigeons. Especially because it's dinner theater, and they don't poop.
One more thing, Franz. Break a leg on opening night. Auf Wiedersehen.