This is my fourth outing to see Jerry Springer – The Opera, and it still remains deliciously wicked, blasphemous and down right salacious, there is nothing to prepare you for this irreverent mixture of low brow lyrics and high brow operatic scores. Every time I see the show it still manages to hit my funny bone, and though I now know all the nooks and crannies of the plot, I am still delighted by it.
The casting for the original show was next to perfection and it must be a nerve wrecking experience for a director of a hit show to have to make major cast changes. However, the new cast is almost as good as the old in almost everyway.
A major cast change is David Soul as Jerry Springer. This is the only non-singing role in the show and David Soul successfully brings the right amount of irony to his portrayal. He stands calmly whilst all hell – literally- breaks out around him.
Hadrian Delacey has the most difficult act to follow in replacing David Bedella as Satan. Bedella was born to play the part of Satan; he extruded a sadistic humour, and his smile and rolling eyes alone were able to raise laughter amongst the audience. Delacey lacks that same ability, but he does sing the role well and what he lacks in natural humour he compensates for with his obvious enthusiasm for the role.
Claire Platt also as a difficult job replacing Valda Aviks in the roles of Irene & Mary. Although her singing is as good, her face does not express the range of shallow emotions that made Valda Aviks so hilarious when she played the part. However, Platt was not helped by the ridiculous grey wig provided by the costume department, it was so appallingly bad that it made her look like a badly dressed transvestite.
The American ‘Jerry Springer Show’ was unique amongst chat shows, in that it often resembled a public confessional in which the guilty and the simply self-obsessed divulged their most dreadful secrets to their ‘loved’ ones before a live audience and on National TV. Guests confessed to the most obscure sexual perversities or acts of unbelievable heartbreaking betrayal. The sheer shock, horror and total distaste that the programme generated were bizarrely the reasons for its success – it is peculiarly compulsive.
The first half of the musical takes the usual format of a Jerry Springer Show with guests making their bizarre revelations whilst being verbally abused by the audience. The second half takes place in hell in which God, Jesus, Mary and other figures from Christian mythology are forced to make confessions of their own and are treated with the same distain as any other guest. The same ‘trailer park trash’ that populates the average Jerry Springer Show apparently colonizes Heaven.
Richard Thomas, the composer of the operatic score – yes, it is opera – has combined the lowbrow soap opera of the Jerry Springer Show with classical highbrow opera. It is the sheer daring of this mixture of fowl expletives with high opera that makes Jerry Springer - The Opera such outrageous fun. Imagine a cross between Bernard Manning and Luciano Pavarotti and you have a grasp for the Frankenstein cross breed of cultures that Jerry Springer The Opera represents.
Jerry Springer the Opera remains an addictive shot of pure vulgar fun.
Review from one of our readers
Throughout a long and varied career, cultural icon Jerry Springer can claim many labels other than 'host'; one-time mayor of Cincinnati, political pundit, lawyer, former award-winning newscaster, country recording artist, Tv personalty, move star and Broadway actor among them.
Now Jerry Springer has been immortalised on the London stage, but if you think this is any ordinary show think again. I must say I have wanted to see this show for sometime mainly intrigued by the fact that its performed as an "Opera" On a recent working visit to London I had time to see a show and chose "Jerry Springer – The Opera" So I had my front row seat in the dress circle and the mayhem began. Playing the role of Jerry Springer was the American Tv and film actor David Soul I was fortunate enough to speak with him before seeing the show, he described it as "A Crazy Show" and he was not joking! The performance begins with the warm up man played by David Bedella who also plays the role of Satan? yes, I know what your thinking I was thinking the same "Satan" in a musical
The first act is much as I expected the normal talk show with outrageous guests, including Montel who wants to be a baby in a nappy! the guy who played him, Leon Craig put in a great witty performance. I did have slight reservations about it being operatic however it works well and the second act breaks all the rules if there were any left to break!
Having only seen David Soul in the show I can only comment on his portrayal as "Jerry Springer" he has a great stage presence and the audience even treat him as Jerry Springer, his calmness is just right while the rest of the cast spell out that this is no ordinary show but has a talented cast.
I was however sorry to see a number of empty seats in the Dress Circle where I was seated, still the show must go on! I feel you always get one or two performers that out shine others and Jerry Springer - The Opera is no exception. I feel lucky to have seen David Bedella play his award winning role of warm up man/Satan he realy did take the shine off other members of the cast.
I don't feel that the production is worthy of outstanding praise although the production works well and has great performances, it is worth seeing, if you like the Tv show then this is for you. However if you hate the outragours Tv show then leave the opera to Jerry and his moment!
The following review is with Michael Brandon as Jerry Springer
Review by Alan Bird
11 Nov 2003
The outlandish, blasphemous, decadent, foul-mouthed trash that is Jerry Springer the Opera is as salaciously funny the second time around at its new home at the Cambridge Theatre as it was when I first saw the play at the National Theatre in May this year. A new cult has been born, an ingenious mixture of lowbrow lyrics set to highbrow operatic arias that creates compulsive entertainment.
Jerry Springer is the king of confessional TV shows in which Americans indulge their obsessive delight in watching the guilty and self-obsessed reveal their most dreadful secrets in front of a baying audience on national TV.
In the first act we witness a conventional Jerry Springer show with guests such as Dwight (Benjamin Lake) who confesses to having affairs behind his fiancés back, one of them with the pre-operative transsexual Tremount (Andrew Bevis) the ‘Chick with a dick’.
The second act is even more outrageous and hilarious than the first. We witness one of the most tasteless and downright blasphemous pieces of musical theatre ever to hit a West End stage. We are warned that a strong grasp of Jewish/Christian mythology is helpful in appreciating what is about to follow and indeed it is. The devil (David Bedella) forces Jerry Springer (Michael Brandon) to stage a version of his show in hell and asks him to reconcile good and evil, god and the devil. The devil demands an apology from god, Jesus is revealed as ‘a little bit gay’ and gleefully threatens condemnation on all those who ‘piss him off’; Mary (Valda Aviks) accuses the christ child of parental neglect and god the father sings, “It ain’t easy being me ”.
Richard Thomas’ operatic score set to his and Stewart Lee’s scurrilous lyrics is sheer comic genius. Who would have thought that songs full of four letter words sang in operatic voice could prove to be so addictively funny!
The show is superbly sung and well acted throughout, and is sure to leave even the most liberal person feeling dumbfounded with its collection of zany, offensive characters. As well as the “trailer-park trash”, we are also entertained by tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan members, a nappy wearing Jesus, and clones of Jerry Springer all singing “This Is My Jerry Springer Moment”.
If you want an evening of naughty wicked fun then go and have your own personal Jerry Springer moment. Starchy prudes had better keep away!
(Production photos by Catherine Ashmore).
What other critics had to say.....
CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "I remain convinced that this is a musical with a touch of genius about it." ALISTAIR MACAULAY for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "Watching it a second time is as much fun as it was the first." MADDY COSTA for THE GUARDIAN says, "The barrage of profanity has its peaks of hilarity...But two hours of chicks with dicks, anal sex and gay cum inevitably feels tiresome." BENEDICT NIGTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Wonderfully original." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Cult of the coolest, wittiest trailer trash."