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Jerry Springer – The Opera

“Briskly entertaining revival”

It’s been almost three decades since The Jerry Springer Show first graced – or rather, disgraced – our TV screens and 16 years since Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee’s gleefully sacrilegious Olivier-winning operatic re-imagining shook up the West End.

Compared to the more insidious nature of today’s reality TV, the warring spouses and sexual proclivities on parade in the show’s opening half now seem almost quaintly pantomimic. And being invited to laugh unguiltily at references to lesbian dwarfs, “chicks with dicks” and high-kicking Klansmen feels strangely out of step in 2019.

But this inaugural production from Northern Ricochet embraces the audaciousness with unapologetic brio. There are subtle changes – budding pole dancer Shawntel (brilliantly sung by CiCi Howells) is now pregnant rather than overweight – but the show’s greatest joke, the collision of high and low art, still works tremendously well.

This is mainly because of the quality of the singing, with a large ensemble cast marshalled expertly by director James Baker and choreographer Sindy Richardson and delivering Thomas’ incongruously beautiful tunes – aping everything from Puccini to Rocky Horror – with total conviction.

The show’s TV-studio setting suits Hope Mill’s bijou performing space to a tee, with the audience raked on two sides. This gives the production a fittingly gladiatorial air and lends considerable heft to the gloriously realised ensemble numbers such as Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Take Care, while adding stifling intensity to the still outrageously Christian-baiting second half.

This bear-pit-like atmosphere also allows the quieter moments and fourth wall-breaking asides from Michael Howe’s suitably slippery and charismatic Jerry to really punch through.

The Exonerated review at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – ‘bold yet distancing’

Related to this Review

Jerry Springer – the Opera to be revived at Hope Mill Theatre in ManchesterJerry Springer – the Opera to be revived at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester

Production Details
Production nameJerry Springer – The Opera
VenueHope Mill
StartsAugust 9, 2019
EndsAugust 31, 2019
Running time2hrs 20mins
ComposerRichard Thomas
Book writerRichard Thomas, Stewart Lee
LyricistRichard Thomas, Stewart Lee
DirectorJames Baker
Musical directorTom Chester
ChoreographerSindy Richardson
Set designerVictoria Hinton-Albrieux
Costume designerVictoria Hinton-Albrieux
Lighting designerAaron J Dootson
Sound designerChris Bogg
CastAndrew Patrick-Walker, Cici Howells, Georgina James, Kai Jolley, Matt Bond, Michael Howe, Tom Lloyd
Stage managerOsian Griffiths
ProducerBill Elms, James Baker, Northern Ricochet Productions, Tom Chester
VerdictWell-sung, briskly entertaining revival of a show that still has the power to shock
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Chris Bartlett

Chris Bartlett

Chris Bartlett

Chris Bartlett

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