Baz Luhrmann brought opera to Broadway with his production of La Bohème this season. The Puccini classic may soon be joined on the boards by a production of Jerry Springer — The Opera.
The new work, currently the hottest ticket in London, as it is selling out its world premiere at the National Theatre, is reportedly exploring the possibility of a run in New York. The New York Times reports there has been interest by the three major Broadway theater owners — the Shuberts, the Nederlanders and Jujamcyn.
The opera began as a "scratch night" event in 2001 with creator-composer Richard Thomas, then underwent a number of workshops before making a splash — in concert version — at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002. New National Theatre Director Nicholas Hytner, who had followed the evolution, decided to present the work as his first production and the National's first new opera, saying "It’s exactly the kind of work the National should be doing: bold, scabrous, funny and beautiful."
The stage work centers on its title character, talk show host Jerry Springer, and his widely followed television program. Known for its volatile and outrageous guests — who at times assault each other — the show's topics have ranged from "Hillbilly Love Triangles!" and "A Transsexual Turned Me On!" to "Surprise! I Have a Bisexual Lover" and "I Refuse to Wear Clothes." After the traditional "Jerry! Jerry!" chant, the show concludes with Springer's Final Thoughts — in which the host comments on the proceedings in an attempt to make sense of it all.
Jerry Springer — The Opera features music by Richard Thomas with book and lyrics by Stewart Lee and Thomas. Lee directs. The National Theatre staging is presented in collaboration with producers Allan McKeown and Avalon. Characters featured in the production include Jerry (as played by lookalike Michael Brandon), the TV show's head of security Steve Wilcos (Guy Porrit), a slew of trailer trash and omnisexual characters, some KKK members and Satan (David Bedella).
The world premiere has earned many rave reviews, foreseeing the show as a cult classic. Jerry Springer himself provides one of the show's quotes saying, "Everyone is always telling me I am going to hell. Now I've seen it...I hope the show comes to America...I only wish I'd thought of it first."
For more information, visit www.jerryspringertheopera.com.