Jerry Springer The Opera
  • By Rob Marks
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  • 16th Aug 2009
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  • ★★★★★

The most controversial musical of all time returns to its spiritual home in a production that is so vastly superior to the professional one that it is staggering.Welcome to the Jerry Springer show. His audience of trailer-trash and sexual deviants reveal their guilty secrets on national television whilst Springer watches from the sidelines. But when he is shot by one of his guests, he imagines he is dragged to Hell to reconcile an argument that’s been running since the dawn of time: God and Satan.This is an incredibly ambitious production for lots of reasons. Obviously, the show carries with it some danger for anybody brave enough to put it on. Secondly, the company are student-professionals from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama tackling an incredibly demanding and complex score. And staging Springer is ridiculously complicated, let alone in a Fringe venue and on a Fringe budget.But these are all challenges the company not only rise to but also vault over. Andrew Panton’s direction is astounding. He has created a marvellously chaotic production that is clearly based on an astonishing amount of rehearsal. His staging is simple but wonderfully effective, prompting gasps of amazement from the audience as the set’s secrets reveal themselves. This production owes nothing to the West-End run; everything here is original and masterfully executed.Panton has also embraced the piece’s controversy. In a musical all about freedom of expression, he has responded to the show’s critics (you might even meet some outside the venue) with joyously inventive choreography that pushes those buttons even harder. I would be remiss for not talking about the band. They are simply outstanding. The score is incredibly intricate and how they manage to bring the gravitas they do to the show is beyond me. The cast are clearly having the time of their lives on that stage. The energy and excitement they bring to their roles, even as a chorus, is electrifying. Each and every one of them should be congratulated on their sublime and hilarious performances. They are, without doubt, the best ensemble cast I’ve seen in Edinburgh. Stand out performances include Alissa Keogh’s wannabe poledancer, Aaron Lee Lambert’s hilarious campy Jesus, Colette Neil’s Andrea, a sane woman trapped in an insane world, and Adrianne Salmon’s Baby Jane. And Jonathan Lum’s warm-up artist/Satan is a delightfully theatrical and exhilaratingly original creation.I’ve run out of superlatives. If the job of a Fringe reviewer is to suggest where you should spend your money, then spend it here. If it’s to talk about the quality of a show, then this is sublime. If it’s just to enjoy himself on his free ticket then I had the best night out I’ve had in years. Even if the show is not your thing, there’s no way you won’t marvel at the direction, choreography and performances. It’s my wish that this production of Jerry Springer the Opera is immediately transferred to the West End so I can go every night. These people deserve more stars than I can hand out. So, go and see Jerry Jerry. Now.

The Blurb

Brand new production of 'the show that satirises America's trash TV culture and, in so doing, raises the celestial roof with its raucous irreverence' (Daily Telegraph). Jerry Springer is a 'shocking, irresistibly funny masterpiece' (Sunday Times).