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Hitler musical prepares for curtain-up in Berlin

MORE than six decades after the Nazi dictator killed himself in his Berlin bunker, a character parodying Hitler will feature in the first production in Germany of the award-winning Broadway musical comedy by Mel Brooks, "The Producers."

Berlin's Admiralspalast theater - just blocks to the north of the dictator's infamous bunker - will stage "The Producers - Fruehling fuer Hitler" (Springtime for Hitler) from May 17.

It is the eagerly awaited German rendition of Brooks' record-setting musical about two men trying to create a Broadway flop that ran for six years with more than 2,500 performances. It grossed US$300 million in New York and US$1 billion worldwide.

Hitler was himself a patron of the same 1,700-seat Admiralspalast theater and had his own luxury "Fuehrerloge" box.

But because Hitler and the crimes of the Third Reich remain a sensitive issue in Germany, local media have questioned whether it is appropriate for Germans to laugh about Hitler.

"I think Germans are definitely ready to laugh about Hitler," said Rita Baus, the artistic director of the Admiralspalast, in an interview with reporters in the Fuehrer Box.

"Mel Brooks has shown how totally ridiculous Hitler was and given us the chance to laugh about him. It's not just a musical comedy about the Nazis. It's a comedy about a couple of crooks. But I'm convinced it's liberating for Germans to be able to laugh about Hitler.

"There are moments you wonder why you're laughing," said Baus. "It's the funniest and most disrespectful musical I've ever seen. I agree with what Mel Brooks said: There is no better place to stage 'The Producers' than Berlin."


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