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Jose Solís

Jose Solís

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The outrageously profane Jerry Springer—The Opera gets a long-awaited NYC run

The outrageously profane Jerry Springer—The Opera gets a long-awaited NYC run

When you think of The Jerry Springer Show, you probably imagine fistfights, strippers, and mothers and daughters bonding over bondage. But when British musician Richard Thomas first encountered the show—in a drunken haze after a gig—the first thing that came to his mind, he says, was: “This is like an opera.” In the talk show’s bleeped expletives, he heard melodies; in its trashier-than-life guests, he found archetypes out of Verdi and Puccini; in Springer himself, he saw an almost Solomonic figure who abstained from passing judgment and tried to find the good in the outcasts of society. Thomas spent six months watching episodes of the show and searching for musical patterns in its language. “I’m a massive musical-theater and opera fan, so I wanted to combine elements of both,” he says. The result was Jerry Springer—The Opera, which opened in London in 2003 and won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical; then New Yorkers caught a glimpse of it in a 2008 concert at Carnegie Hall. Only now, however, is the show getting a genuine Off Broadway run, produced by the New Group and directed by John Rando (Urinetown); currently in previews, it will have its official opening on February 22. It may have taken the election of a reality-TV star to the White House to make this production a reality. The show, says Thomas, resonates with the current state of American life; to accent the show’s timeliness, he has added new songs for this production. “We are living in a reality show,” says vet

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