VictoriaThis is something of an odd case, in that while Jerry Springer: The Opera had a huge impact on me when I first saw it at the Battersea Arts Centre in February 2002 (still then as a one-actor, if I recall correctly), I’ve never much liked the music on its own. But the concept is great – the recurring themes on the Jerry Springer Show are operatic and equally the tropes of opera can often seem overblown and ridiculous. The first production, which evolved out of a series of workshops at Battersea, was really strong, and the music and words worked brilliantly together – particularly the interaction between chorus (audience) and the contestants. Above all it was hilarious, and the audience loved it. So did Jerry Springer himself, who was quoted as saying “I only wish I’d thought of it first”.

However, the music just doesn’t hold much interest for me without the action. (I do enjoy the choral opening where strings of swear words are given the full Handel oratorio treatment – and also the later choral movement “Jerry Eleison”). After the Battersea performance and the Edinburgh Fringe run later the same year (which I also saw), the show was lengthened for its full scale National Theatre production in 2003, and I felt by then it had lost its edge. It was only much later (in September 2010) that I saw another production that I really liked – the Ray of Light Theatre group, performing at San Francisco’s historic, but somewhat dilapidated, Victoria Theatre on Mission and 16th – yards from where my office used to be. I had thought it might be too offensive, and even perhaps too anti-American, to be a success in the States, but I was proven wrong – the audience went wild. I’d still go out of my way to see any new production that comes along, but won’t be dusting off my CD of the National Theatre production any time soon.

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