Jerry Springer opera finds its lead | Controversial show being revived after 13 years

Jerry Springer opera finds its lead

Controversial show being revived after 13 years

Actor Michael Howe has been cast as Jerry Springer in the revival of Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s controversial opera about the US talk show host.

As Chortle revealed in January, the show is being revived at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre this August, 13 years after it was last performed in the UK.

Producers says Howe, recently seen playing Edward VII in an episode of Channel 4 comedy The Windsors, was chosen as he has a strong resemblance to Jerry Springer.

The actor said: ‘I’m so excited to join the show and be part of the revival of such an iconic piece of social theatre. It is going to be a theatrical rollercoaster of a show. It’s going to be a fantastic four weeks in Manchester, and I cannot wait to meet the audiences."

Fourteen singers from across the Greater Manchester region have been cast as the Jerry Choir to support the cast of professional actors. The remaining full cast will be announced soon.

News of Howe’s casting comes in the week ITV cancelled the Jeremy Kyle Show following the suicide of Steve Dymond shortly after he appeared on the show.

Jerry Springer: The Opera director James Baker said: ‘Announcing Michael Howe as our Jerry is a pivotal moment in bringing this iconic show back to the stage after 15 years and especially at this very timely and poignant moment in UK chat show history, where big questions need to be asked.’

‘Jerry is the glue which binds the whole production together and we are excited to see Michael’s portrayal as Jerry. Michael’s calibre and experience will enable us to have a new conversion with the work.’

The controversial musical is being brought to the stage by new production company Northern Ricochet.

It was first performed at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe after being developed at  London's Battersea Arts Centre. It went on to play the National Theatre and the Cambridge Theatre in the West End – but a BBC Two broadcast of the stage show in 2005 galvanised protesters, attracting 55,000 complaints and even death threats against Corporation executives. Lee has said that the campaign against the show stopped him from making any money from the years it took to develop. 

The opera has been staged overseas since the original brouhaha, including an award-winning run in New York’s Pershing Square Signature Center last year – 14 years after a planned Broadway run was cancelled. Harvey Keitel also played the title character for a two-night run at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2008.

A version ran in Dublin’s 2,000-seat Grand Canal Theatre for a week in 2011, and it has also been staged at the Sydney Opera House and in Toronto, both in 2009.

The new version of Jerry Springer: The Opera runs at Hope Mill Theatre from August 8 to August 31.  Tickets.

Published: 16 May 2019

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