Nicholas Hytner has chosen Jerry Springer: The Opera, the concert version of which was the hit of this year's Edinburgh Fringe, as the first production at the Lyttelton Theatre in his opening season. It will be staged in April 2003.
Given that Hytner stressed his interest in the Lyttleton at the press conference at which his appointment was announced, this is a considerable tribute to the show, which is based on the extraordinary, lurid, and very popular American television chat show in which people with bizarre lives bare all for public entertainment and their 15 minutes of fame.
Jerry Springer's creative team — including first-time director and co-writer, Stewart Lee and Shockheaded Peter designer Julian Crouch — are to be retained for this first full theatrical production. None of the team has worked at the National Theatre before. It is both creator/composer Richard Thomas' and the National Theatre's first new opera.
The opera began its development as a public "scratch night" at the Battersea Arts Centre in 2001, funded by composer Richard Thomas. It was developed through a subsequent series of public workshops that were seen by Nicholas Hytner, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh and various Broadway producers and went on to be performed in concert at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.
Nicholas Hytner's interest in opera is long established. He came to public attention as an opera director before moving into more "mainstream" theatre, and English National Opera recently revived the stunning production of Handel's Xerxes that made Hytner's name in the mid 1980's.
Tickets for Jerry Springer - the Opera will be available from early in the New Year, as will more details about the production.