Reviewed by Ann Durrell
The Jerry Springer Show was one of the most famous tabloid style talk shows on both sides of the pond throughout the 90’s and into 00’s. So famous that in 2003 Richard Thomas wrote and scored ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera’ with additional lyrics from comedian Stewart Lee. The opera pokes fun at the whole format of the show, its hosts, audience and of course the participants looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
Highlights include a pregnant wannabe pole dancer, a chorus line of Klu Klux Klan, a man whose cheating on his fiancé with multiple partners and another with mummy issues. If you are easily offended this may not be the right show for you, when the BBC televised it in 2005 there were 55k complaints and a Christian group even tried to bring blasphemy charges! Personally, it is totally one of the funniest things I have watched in a long time!
The shows running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes and its made up of three acts. Act 1 is based on the talk show format, songs with titles such as ‘foursome guests’, ‘chick with a dick’ and ‘mama gimmee smack on the asshole’ gives and insight into the themes! Keeping to the TV show format there’s even mini adverts where the chorus act adverts out for Prozac and guns amongst others. There’s a nice little dig at Donald Trump thrown in, bringing the production up to date. Act 2 Jerry has been brought to purgatory where Satan blackmails him into hosting a very special edition for him to resolve his issues. The final act includes Jerry’s final though, a reference back again to the original show.
Michael Howe has the lead of Jerry Springer, he has perfected Springer’s mannerism and even the facial expression of disbelieve and amusement I remember so well. Tom Lloyd as the warmup man/Satan is delightfully conniving, Emily Chesterton (Peaches/Baby Jane) and Cici Howells (Shawntel/Eve) both have powerful voices and are stand out in their roles. I was slightly worried that Andrew Patrick-walker (Tremont/Gabriel) and David Burlin (Montel/Jesus) were going to do themselves an injury with their displays of splits/half splits, or more I was just jealous I can’t do them especially when singing at the same time!
Jerry Springer – The Opera is the inaugural production from Northern Ricochet who bill themselves as ‘A new theatrical company with a bold aim’ Its founders have done so with the aim of represent and help nourish the talent pool in the North West. After watching the show last night it’s obvious they are doing so, I could not put a fault on any of the main ensemble. They all have boundless energy, outstanding vocals and the ability to engage the audience throughout without dropping a beat. I think it is hugely ambitious for a new company to take on Jerry Springer which won Laurence Olivier Awards and they have definitely pulled it off.
Hope Mill is such a great stage for the opera. With audience seating to either side of the stage you are right in the middle of the action. It’s a more intimate experience which feels as if you could actually be in the talk show audience. The run is to 31st August, it’s funny, lighthearted, silly and a little but crazy, get yourself along you will not regret it!
Tickets cost from £20 to £25 (booking fees may apply).
Jerry Springer – The Opera is at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester from 9-30 August 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit hopemilltheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 0333 012 4963.
Hope Mill Theatre, Hope Mill, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, M4 7JA | 0333 012 4963