'Jerry Springer the Opera' takes over Carnegie Hall

Harveykeitel_l“So dip us in chocolate and throw us to the lesbians!” That’s my favorite lyric from Jerry Springer the Opera — and probably the only one I can quote in its entirety. Because the rest of the musical is just that filthy. The award-winning British import is currently playing a two-night concert stint, starring Harvey Keitel (pictured, with Linda Balgord) as the titular trashy talk-show host, at NYC’s Carnegie Hall — presumably in lieu of a previously announced then mysteriously scuttled Broadway run. (Hmm… could it be that investors are wary of putting their cash behind a chorus full of tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan members?)

The conceit of Jerry Springer is that it is, in fact, a full-fledged opera, packed with arias and fugues, dramatic duets and trios, gorgeous orchestrations, and lush, sophisticated melodies by Richard Thomas. The lyrics, however, by Thomas and Stewart Lee, tend toward the lowbrow (“My mum used to be my dad… snip, snip”). Imagine a soft, confessional ballad that begins with the line “A weird thing happened last night when I went to take a leak.” (Maybe now you get the picture.) By Act 2, the shtick grows a bit tiresome; when Jerry is broadcasting Springer from Hell (get ready for a Satan versus Jesus smackdown!) the show really goes off the rails. But you have to give props to whoever thought to give Eve a serpent tattoo and a mullet. At last night’s performance, Keitel — who, incidentally, has the only non-singing role — proved a game, surprisingly low-key Springer; his only truly hammy moment was his back-of-the-house, down-the-aisle, high-fiving, televangelist-style entrance (during which he stopped to quickly greet his pal Robert De Niro in the audience). There’s one more profanity-filled performance at Carnegie Hall tonight; if you can’t get there, but still want to see a 200-pound man in a diaper, you can always spring for the U.K. DVD

addCredit(“Harvey Keitel and Linda Balgord: Seth Wenig/AP”)

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  • katie g

    i saw jerry springer the opera in london a couple of years ago and nearly peed my pants with laughter…
    but lots of people walked out, which is kind of stupid – i mean, you have to know what you’re getting into, right?
    ‘this is my jerry springer moment’ with klu klux klan members doing the can can is still hilarious

  • new yorker

    I find it weird first of all that Harvey Keitel is in the production but not weird enough to make a big fuss over it. However, something that I think definitely deserves a big fuss is the fact that EW has been going on and on the past few weeks about Christian Bale and how fabulous of an actor he is (115% agree!!!!) and how hot he is (again, 115% agree!!) and yet, today is this fine actor’s birthday and not a word on it? I mean, I am VERY, VERY disappointed. After all, if the academy is going to continue to be a bunch of tools and not acknowledge him for his wonderful body of work, then the least we can do is help the man celebrate his birthday. EW, are you with me?!?!?!?!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I saw this in London as well. I have to agree that the first half is hilarious, and then the second act gets a little bit long. But then again, so does Springer.

  • MeNY

    No, no, no. Don’t buy the UK DVD. It won’t play on US DVD players. It’s DVD region 2, ours are Region 1.

  • donner

    When you type “Jerry Springer” and “Opera” in the same sentence, does your keyboard start to smoke too, or is it only mine…?

  • Shawn D

    “I Just Wanna F*****G Dance” is a classic and the dance/club remixes are incredible. Someone spliced a bunch of movie footage to a mix of the song. The clip is at http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q32_G215bb0

  • NEgirl

    I saw the original show in London about 6 years ago – truly epic. Caught a matinee show, and was surrounded by elderly people, who LOVED it! The couple in front of me were fighting over who got the pin that said “Chick with a D!ck” and the one that said “Three Nipple Cousin Fu&*#%”
    The music is actually quite lovely, (despite the lyrics) and if you can get past the tap dancing Klansmen (who light a burning cross on stage) and Jesus in a diaper, it’s well worth the time.


    I must tell you that when I read about Caiden and his exploits/temperment/etc., it is so much like my son Matthew. I assure you that by the time that Caiden is a teenager you will long for these days of constant jabbering. Matt is now a college freshman and no longer carries on long conversations with me but every now and then he lets me see a glimpse of that sweet, talkative boy. Every time I read about your own sweet boy it brings me back to those days when my own head hurt from Matthew’s constant comments that seemed so grand and his ideas so absolutely fantabulous. He was so unlike any five year old I had ever met until now reading about Caiden.
    Treasure these times, as I know you do, and make sure you save all these things somewhere safe so that one day you can share them with his wife and children. Priceless memories are being created each and every day.I married a “Caiden”. When my husband was a child, his nickname was “Shut Up Scott”. (That’s what his mother and grandmother ca

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