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Jerry Lewis taking ‘Nutty Professor’ to stage

Comedian hopes to eventually take musical version of movie to Broadway
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jerry Lewis, who played "The Nutty Professor" in 1963, has a wacky new scheme: staging the film as a Broadway musical. The first show is planned for January at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, where the 80-year-old comedian has a houseboat, he said.

Lewis will direct the show, which he aims to have on Broadway by October 2008.

The show will be produced by The Michael Andrew Company. Andrew, a 41-year-old crooner and comedian who fronts The Atomic Big Band, is set to play the lead, the bucktoothed Julius Kelp, who invents a potion that transforms him into the suave Buddy Love.

"I had an awful lot of inquiries about it for years, and I never really bothered to pay much attention to it," Lewis, who lives in the Las Vegas area, told reporters Tuesday.

"I saw this kid perform, and he wanted very much to do that, and he had money," Lewis said. "I said, 'With those pockets, we'll give it a shot.'"

The company bought the rights to develop "The Nutty Professor" into a musical in March, executive producer Ned McLeod said. The story also was remade in 1996 into a movie — which Lewis co-produced — starring Eddie Murphy.

Andrew said he was inspired by Lewis' comedy at an early age.

"When I was 8 years old, I saw that movie and it pretty much formed what I wanted to do for the rest of my life," Andrew said. "I never knew it would be as direct as it's going right now."

Lewis has battled pulmonary fibrosis, a crippling lung ailment, in recent years, keeping him off the stage. He plans to return for four shows in Las Vegas in July.