August 13, 2001 12:00 PM

Original Broadway Cast Recording (Sony Classical)

For those who thought Saving Private Ryan could have used a fewswell dance numbers and Patton just wasn’t gay enough, there’s The Producers, Mel Brooks’s Broadway smash based on his film about impresarios who connive to make a mint by intentionally staging a flop called Springtime for Hitler. Nazi jokes, gay jokes and Jewish jokes fuel a mirth machine with lines like “The songs were rotten/ The book was stinkin’/ What he did to Shakespeare/ Booth did to Lincoln!”

Star Nathan Lane—Fred Flintstone with a fedora—has a voice so big he sounds like he swallowed Ethel Merman, and sidekick Matthew Broderick holds his own by channeling Jerry Lewis at his snivelingest. There is no substitute for seeing a Nazi pigeon or a chorus line of lusty old ladies wielding their walkers like a troupe of osteoporotic Fred Astaires, but this is the funniest recording since William Shatner’s mangling of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Who can resist a gay Hitler warbling, “Heil myself/ Heil to me/ I’m the kraut/ who’s out/ to change our history!”

Bottom Line: Sturm and drag

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