‘Keep it gay! Keep it gay! Keep it gay!”
In case you missed it, that’s the refrain from a song in “The Producers: The New Mel Brooks Musical.”
In case you haven’t guessed the name of that song from that musical that isn’t so new anymore (it opened on Broadway in 2001), it’s “Keep it Gay.”
And in case you missed Friday’s landmark 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, states can’t keep gay people from marrying each other anymore.
In case you didn’t like that decision, get over it — and get used to it.
Sexual orientation shouldn’t block two adults who want to marry each other from taking that leap of love.
What about three adults who love and want to marry each other?
Are you offended by that notion?
And are you offended by the over-the-top — some say negative — gay stereotypes in “The Producers”?
In that adaptation of Brooks’ 1968 movie, “The Producers” (characters Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom) hire garishly gay Roger De Bris, who has an equally flamboyant “common-law assistant” named Carmen Ghia, to direct a play. The producers don’t pick Roger, Broadway’s worst director, because they want the show to do well. They want it to bomb so they can fleece their naive, old-lady financial backers.
That faux play’s title, “Springtime for Hitler,” is all too apt. Roger even wants the ending rewritten so that Germany wins the war.
In the aforementioned song, he croons this critique:
“The theater’s so obsessed,
With dramas so depressed,
It’s hard to sell a ticket on Broadway.
Shows should be more pretty,
Shows should be more witty,
Shows should be more ... what’s the word ... gay?”
And for not just a witty but a downright hilarious show, my favorite night on Broadway remains seeing “The Producers” with my then-12-year-old son at New York’s St. James Theatre, which is actually on West 44th, in October 2002.
The touring company that brought it to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center in 2006 hit all the right notes in Brooks’ manic masterpiece, too.
The friend who accompanied me that night was also a man who also likes show tunes.
Yet that doesn’t mean we were or are, well, you know.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
That last sentence was a “Seinfeld” reference from “The Outing.”
In that 1993 episode, Jerry and George can’t convince an NYU student journalist of the truth that they aren’t gay — “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Three years later, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage. Twelve years after that, a majority of California voters approved a proposition prohibiting gay marriage. Now, seven years after that, the high court has sanctioned gay marriage.
Thus, a lot has changed in a relative hurry — including a steep climb in hypersensitivity to humor.
The real Seinfeld, still a stand-up comic, recently said on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd,” hosted by Colin Cowherd: “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.’ ”
Seinfeld added of teen and college-age Americans:
“They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudiced.’ They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
Back to “The Producers”:
It does poke fun at gays ... and producers, directors, actors, theater audiences and, yes, Nazis.
However, before dismissing it as tasteless trivializing of the Third Reich, keep in mind that Brooks, who turned 89 on Sunday, is Jewish — and that he served in the U.S. Army in Europe in World War II.
Keep in mind, too, what Nathan Lane, who’s gay and won a Tony for his portrayal of not-gay Max in “The Producers,” told The London Independent in 2005 when the second movie was released:
“There are people who can’t wait to be offended. Then they wonder why they are not invited to more parties.”
So consider this an invitation (only you have to pay) to the Charleston Stage production of “The Producers,” opening on Aug. 28 and running through Sept. 20 at the Dock Street Theatre.
The “Springtime for Hitler” musical within that musical features a last-minute change in the leading/fuehrer role after playwright/star Franz Liebkind falls down the stairs and breaks his leg.
Get it? “Break a leg.”
Roger, pressed into the title part, wows the crowd while belting out this enduring reminder:
“It ain’t no mystery,
If it’s politics or history,
The thing you gotta know is,
Everything is show biz,
Heil myself, watch my show,
I’m the German Ethel Merman, don’t cha’ know ...”
OK, so that’s not everybody’s idea of funny.
But Brooks’ inspired idea of “The Producers” has thoroughly amused millions.
And right about now, we could use some comic relief.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.