Jerry Springer the Opera

Tue 8th – Sat 12th November 2011

reviews

Sinead Hynes

at 00:57 on 9th Nov 2011

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Based on the infamous Jerry Springer Show, Jerry Springer the Opera is as controversial and filthy as the small screen equivalent. Directed by Oskar McCarthy and under the musical direction of Ben Atkinson, Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society tackled Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s opera with great enthusiasm and a lung capacity that would put a whale to shame.

The almost completely sung musical is based around a day on the Jerry Springer talk show. Three guests arrive on the show having to get “something off their chests” to the disgust and anger of their loved ones. The day ends up being the worst day of Jerry’s career. The guests that make up the day’s show range from a pole dancer to members of the KKK, talented in the skill of tap dancing, to men in diapers. The show accumulates in a classic battle between good and evil, but the maybe not so classic battle between God and Satan.

The quality of the singers in the group was so good it could almost make the worst of insults sound flattering. There were, however, times in which the music was too loud and some of the singers were drowned out by drums. This was a shame as the lyrics were witty on the whole and an integral part of the experince. Jerry, who does not sing, was a great talk-show host and very believable in his part.

The first half for me was more action-packed and more interesting to watch than the second half. This seemed to drag out a bit too much and the storyline was not as compelling or as funny.

The set was minimalistic but effective in the first half. The second half required more effects and used lighting, smoke and aerials in a way that was conducive to the storyline without being over the top.

A very enjoyable show with great singers but a bit drawn out in places. This show is not recommended if you are easily offended or not able to handle the worst of profanities or sexual references. Audience reaction was very positive with audience members clapping along to some songs in parts and cheering after the curtain close.

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Bryanna Hahn

at 01:42 on 9th Nov 2011

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As an American, I was both skeptical and curious about Jerry Springer: The Opera before I went to see it tonight at the ADC Theatre. After all, Jerry Springer is not just a television program back home- it’s practically a national pastime to watch it. I have spent hours, ok… days (this review is anonymous, right??) of my life captivated by complex permutations and love quadrilaterals that exist only among guests on Jerry Springer.

That is why I can confidently recommend this show to anyone with a sense of humour, an open mind, and a penchant for the depraved and indecent. Just like on TV, Jerry Springer: The Opera hosts a show full of pole-dancing, gun-slinging, cowboy boot-wearing, foul mouthed and morally repugnant hillbillies that air their dirty laundry to the world. The show’s set, I mean the stage, looked exactly the same with Jerry’s infamous logo and cue cards, the crowd of half-drunk and rowdy audience members sounded the same while chanting ‘Jerry! Jerry!’ Even Steve, the show’s head of security wrangled the cat fights and beat downs the same way.

Still, in all the episodes of Jerry Springer I’ve seen, I never witnessed one guest air their dirty secrets through song. But that did not mean it wasn’t enjoyable. To the contrary, the quasi-opera slash musical setting was perfect for the spoof on the trashy talk show, as the irony made the show that much more amusing. Hearing characters say that Jerry is ‘bigger than the f****n' pope' or ‘Zandra is a dirty whore’ is one thing, but hearing it via song takes it to a whole new level. Plus, the singing was exceptionally well done. Even by the cross-dressing male playing the pre-op transvestite girlfriend of a cheating fiancé had a beautiful voice. And tap-danced like an angel!

Speaking of angels, the second act is full of them. After the more true-to-life rendition of a Jerry Springer show in Act One, the host is then moved to a new location where religious figures become guests, deeply cherished beliefs are made a mockery of, and the show becomes truly hysterical. My favorite part was definitely the JerryCam- a hidden camera used to follow a particular guest and then aired to the entire audience. I would explain more, but I wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun…

Despite all of the bad language, crude humor, and overt vulgarity throughout this show, there were also moments that made me think and reminded me of the human condition that unites us all. For just as Jerry Springer: The Opera is a spoof on The Jerry Springer Show (if not America at large), The Jerry Springer Show is really just a spoof on society, with Mr Springer as the person holding a mirror up to us all…

So for my final thought, I quote Mr Springer who said, ‘I don’t want to serve in hell. At this point in my career that would be a sideways move.’ Not after this show, I think. After two hours of dirty, vulgar, and purely hedonistic fun, I think even the big guy upstairs would say hell is below Jerry Springer. But only if he keeps on tap-dancing…

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