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'Jerry Springer' headed to Broadway

Raunchy musical will debut on Great White Way in 2005
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Jerry Springer — The Opera” is coming to Broadway but not until the fall of 2005.

The raucous, raunchy London hit about the American talk show host will open Oct. 20, 2005, at a theater to be announced, producer Jon Thoday said Monday in a telephone interview from London.

But first, the $13.9 million production will play San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre for six weeks starting at the end of February or the beginning of March 2005, the producer said.

“Going to San Francisco, gives us a chance to work on the show if we need to improve it,” Thoday said. No cast has been set for the American production, and Thoday has not ruled out hiring Michael Brandon, an American who originated the role in London.

“‘Jerry Springer’ is a musical that appeals to people who like musicals and people who don’t,” Thoday said. “It’s got crossover appeal. It has brought a whole new audience into the theater. And it’s very funny. Aside from ‘The Producers,’ there are not that many genuinely funny musicals.”

“Jerry Springer,” created by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, opened last April to rave reviews at the National Theatre in London and later transferred for a commercial run to the Cambridge Theater where it is still playing.

The production, which won the Olivier Award (the British equivalent of the Tony Award) for best musical, features tap-dancing Ku Klux Klansmen, rude language and a never-ending parade of lowlifes and freaks. In the musical, Springer is shot at the end of the first act and gets dragged down to hell.

The real-life Springer saw the show last November in London and praised the production while distancing himself from the Jerry portrayed in it. “It’s a persona, and they did it remarkably well,” he said. “As an opera, it’s perfect.”