Jerry Springer: The Opera to Make New York Debut at Carnegie Hall

Classic Arts News   Jerry Springer: The Opera to Make New York Debut at Carnegie Hall
At long last Jerry Springer: The Opera will arrive in New York City, but it is bypassing Broadway for a two-night run at Carnegie Hall, in a semi-staged concert version in January 2008.

Jerry Springer: The Opera in Concert will play Jan. 29 and 30 at the famed concert venue. Jason Moore (who staged the popular Broadway puppet musical Avenue Q) will direct, with musical direction by Stephen Oremus (of the long-running Broadway hit Wicked).

Featuring music by Richard Thomas with book and lyrics by Stewart Lee and Thomas, Jerry Springer: The Opera began as a "scratch night" event in 2001, then underwent a number of workshops before making a splash — also in a concert version — at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2002. Famed stage director Nicholas Hytner picked up the work for his first production as artistic director of London's National Theatre.

The opera extended twice at the National's Lyttleton Theatre, where it was recorded live for a Sony Music UK double CD release. The work then transferred to the West End's Cambridge Theatre — where it won the 2004 Olivier Award for Best Musical.

A 2005 BBC broadcast of Springer: The Opera was plagued by controversy when conservative Christians mounted a protest campaign accusing the piece of blasphemy. (In the second act, the eponymous talk show host descends to hell, where Jesus Christ is portrayed in an unorthodox guise somewhat at odds with his traditional image.) One group even sued the network, which was ultimately found not to have violated any regulations. The uproar did, however, cause a U.K. tour of the show to be postponed for nine months, not beginning until January 2006.

Springer played a March 17 benefit concert at MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre in Las Vegas and received its first full American production in May at Chicago's Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, where it was very well received by audiences and critics.

The Carnegie presentation of Jerry Springer will be produced by David J. Foster, Jared Geller and Avalon Promotions. "We always loved the project and we realized that no one was holding the rights and pursuing it actively," Foster told The New York Times. "The show is kind of ideal for this treatment."

Ticket and casting information will be announced shortly.

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