A critics' darling and a Best Musical winner, as named by the Olivier Awards, the Critic's Choice Awards, the Evening Standard Awards and What's On Stage Awards, the work is billed as "a fascinating mix of the highest form of art and the lowest form of culture — opera and daytime television."
Chicago is the hometown of the talk show host who made a name for himself by welcoming a parade of outsiders onto his syndicated TV show, which is taped there. Performances will begin May 3, 2007, toward a May 14 opening.
According the 25-year-old Bailiwick, "At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Jerry Springer — The Opera presents a series of unusual characters who each are desperate for 'their Jerry Springer moment.'"
With music by Richard Thomas, and book and lyrics by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, the show "begins in very familiar territory for those of us very aware of Jerry's presence in the NBC Tower downtown," according to Bailiwick. "In Act One, Jerry's guests include a man with a fiancé, a lover, and another lover with a secret. In Act Two we find Jerry hosting in a very different place as he is forced to experience the worst day of his life, and his guests take the level of debate to operatic heights."
Performances will continue to July 8. Bailiwick founder and artistic director David Zak (a seven-time Jeff Citations winner) will direct. Musical director is Gary Edward, with costumes by Jeff Jones, lighting by Jared B. Moore, and choreography by Brenda Didier. Deanna Cox and Scott Deter are the production stage managers. It will feature a cast of 25. Auditions are imminent.
There was much talk and speculation about a Broadway life for the show, but nothing materialized, despite solid reviews.
"Bailiwick is a perfect spot for this American premiere," stated Bailiwick artistic director Zak. "We have had great success with daring large-scale musical projects, from Dorian to Parade. And we have an audience base that embraces the passionate and provocative choices that have been the Bailiwick trademark for the last 25 years. And, frankly, what other theatre in town could be the happy home for a work with a delightful aria about a 'chick-with-a-dick!'"
Richard Thomas (music/co-author of book and lyrics) made his West End debut with Jerry Springer. Stewart Lee (co-author of book and lyrics) won a Writers Guild Award and a Sony Gold award for "On The Hour" on BBC Radio 4 and worked on the award-winning Channel 4 show "Harry Hill" and "This Morning With Richard Not Judy." His first novel, "The Perfect Fool," was published in 2001 by Fourth Estate. He performed as a stand-up comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for 14 consecutive years, and the concert version of Jerry Springer – The Opera was his 15th visit.
Founded in 1982, Bailiwick Repertory "is dedicated to reflecting on our stages the diversity of our world in works ranging from classics to world premieres." Its Primary Series features plays and musicals — many by Chicago authors — appealing to the traditional theatregoer, while the Community Based Initiatives — Pride Series, Directors Fest, Kids of All Kinds, and Second Sex Series — develop new artists and audiences.
Bailiwick has earned over 150 Jeff Recommendations and Citations, including Best Musical Awards for the last three seasons for the world premiere of Dr. Sex, the Chicago premiere of Parade, and a revival of Kiss of the Spider Woman.
For tickets and reservations to Jerry Spring call (773) 883-1090 or visit www.bailiwick.org.
Anyone interested in auditioning for Jerry Springer should send resumes and headshots by Nov. 19 to BRCasting@aol.com. The show features 11 soloists, a chorus of 12, and two non-singing roles — Jerry Springer and his bouncer Steve.