Jerry Springer Comes Face to Face With Himself, Opera-Style

News   Jerry Springer Comes Face to Face With Himself, Opera-Style
There’s been so much written about Jerry Springer: The Opera— a show long in the gestation, from its roots as a workshop at London’s Battersea Arts Centre though a Edinburgh festival try-out and its triumphant emergence as a vital part of Nick Hytner’s inaugural season at the National Theatre—that one wondered how the producers could top their own publicity success for the Nov. 10 West End opening. Then they pulled out their trump card: Jerry Springer himself got on a plane and flew to London to wave the promotional banner.
Promotional art for Jerry Springer: The Opera
Promotional art for Jerry Springer: The Opera

It’s a touch ironic given that Springer’s office, while never refusing any permission for the show to go ahead, initially reserved the right to take action if they found something they didn’t like. But the ubiquitous talk-show host has since been quoted as saying, “I’m only sorry I didn’t think of it first.”Actually, he kind of did, according to his musings at the press conference, which took place the morning of the Cambridge Theatre press night.

“I always thought that country music was my show with music.” he said, “I even had that thought in my mind, that there might be an idea there, I just never went forward with it.” Now, though, the work of composer Richard Thomas and librettist Stewart Lee has convinced him that opera is the perfect medium. “All of the defining trends of opera are in our show, even gender misidentification!”

The opera (and despite the fact that the Springer character talks rather than sings it is an opera, though marketed as a musical) has been such a hit, selling out at the National and drawing adulatory reviews, Playbill On-Line asked whether the real Springer might be interested in playing himself in any big-screen version. “It would be between me and Tom Cruise, obviously. Or maybe Woody Allen.” he quipped, then added, “Truthfully, if I would play me then I’d have to get involved in its writing. There are so many differences between the character the guys have created and what it’s really like, and that’s fine but it’s not the real me.”

Also at the conference were Michael Brandon, who plays Springer, whom his alter-ego judged to have “a real physical sense of me.” Thomas and Lee hastened to damp down speculation that a Broadway transfer is imminent, insisting that they and producers Avalon would see how well it does in the West End. However, offers have been received by all the major New York theatre-owners. First though, they have to get past the opening at the Cambridge, where assembled guests will find out the answer to the next big question. For a show including songs like “Chick With A Dick”, “This Is My Jerry Springer Moment” (sung by tap-dancing Klu Klux Clansmen) and “Mamma Give Me Smack on the Ass”, what on earth will they do for an after-show party?

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