You simply can't ignore The Jerry Springer Show. It's like a gory accident that you have to look at. It's the daytime television talk show that no one wants to admit to watching yet somehow manages to draw enormous audiences. The same might be said for this mock opera that not only savagely satirizes the TV show but also crucifies its fanatical fans.
Director David Zak skillfully thrusts the theater audience into a simulated Chicago television studio, complete with two TV monitors, a warm-up guy, two tough security bouncers and a throng of adoring devotees shouting, "Jer-ry, Jer-ry!" The set also features the familiar red brick background and throwable chairs for the guests. The fast-paced first act packs all the unbleeped four-letter expletives, gratuitous flashing of body parts, punches and hair-pulling you've come to expect.
While the host's cue card-inspired questions and glib comments mirror the TV talk show verbatim, the live production takes a distinctive as a Wagnerian opera-style musical. An amazing ensemble of 29 talented actor/singers transform the screaming Springer guests and audience members into opera divas. Standout performances include Brian Simmons' dead-on impersonation of Springer, Jeremy Rill as both the warm-up man and The Devil and the pole-dancing Kate Garassino.
At the completion of act one, the show catapults Springer and his 15-minutes-of-fame celebrities into purgatory, then hell, where Jerry defends his exploitation show to God, Jesus, Mary and The Devil. This portion of the musical comes off a little weaker than the first half, but it's all in good "adult" fun, right up to Jerry's familiar final thought.