Last night I was at Carnegie Hall for the second concert performance of Jerry Springer The Opera, the smash spoof musical that won critical acclaim (for whatever reason) as a full-scale production in London during its two-year run. As usual, had there been a power outage, the actors could easily have read their music by the flames beaming off the enormous mass of homosexuals in the audience. Whenever these happenings happen there is always an overwhelming assemblage of gay men in the crowd, of course. And frankly it can be a bit much. All that estrogen in one room, I mean. We inevitably all wind up on the same cycle and by intermission the line for the Men’s Room is a nightmare. And speaking of nightmares...Let’s bring out our first guest: My bitchy review of this show...(*booing and hissing from audience*) "FUCK YOU! YOU DON’T KNOW ME!"
When I first heard of an operatic adaptation of The Jerry Springer Show (the notorious guilty pleasure which over the years has proved to be as American as masturbating with apple pie), I thought it partly funny with a slight chance of moderate brilliance. It’s potentially a clever idea; merging one of the world’s highest art forms with its absolute antithesis. (Here I happen to be referring to dramatic opera and trashy television respectively, but that is completely relative to which trailer park you sleep with your cousin in.) Unfortunately, however, the show’s material does not surpass its mildly amusing concept, and the joke expires within minutes.
Act One takes place on a normal taping day on set of the talk show and includes traditional badly-dressed audience members with foul language, and white-trash guests with secrets to share and unopposable middle fingers. The difference is that the hoots, hollers, profanities and big reveals are all set to beautiful arias, with lyrics that are hardly ever impressive or funny enough to excuse their offensiveness. (As a side note, the songs “Chick With A Dick”, “Mamma Gimmee Smack On The Asshole”, and the tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan number that ended the first act were all hauntingly reminiscent of Judy Garland’s legendary concert at the same address some 47 years ago.) The climax comes when Jerry is accidentally shot through the chest, right in his very own studio. At the top of Act Two, we are in Hell (an appropriate setting from the audience’s standpoint.) Springer finds himself in some sort of limbo, and in a second-rate South Park plot twist he must fight for his merciless soul by hosting a heated televised brawl between Jesus and Satan, live from the netherworld. (Ugh, I’m bored.)
In this incarnation, the loveable King of Daytime Dreck was played by Academy Award-nom Harvey Keitel, whose performance suggested that he himself had tickets for another concert and wound up on stage accidentally while searching for the bathroom. Even when reading from his prop host cards, he appeared lost and as though he was improvising every line. And not to be too picky about character development here, but he was about as much Jerry Springer as Jerry Springer is Oprah Winfrey. The supporting cast included the fabulous Emily Skinner (who can do no wrong by me) as a woman coming to terms with her husband’s severe diaper fetish, Max Von Essen as a hot little pre-op tranny with a fierce soprano, and the normally all-too-conservative Linda Balgord (last seen as Queen Elizabeth in The Pirate Queen), who stepped out of her comfort zone (and mine) to sport pink spandex leggings, an alarmingly low-cut halter top, rat her hair, and belt a high "C"-Word (above middle Finger), as the wife vying for her cheating husband’s hideous affections. The chorus was full of familiar Broadway talents, and they sounded absolutely gorgeous under the musical direction of the concert’s adorable conductor, Stephen Oremus. I personally would love to be under him someday myself. (His musical direction, I mean.) But to sum it up, I was not a huge fan. And I am not particularly excited about its proposed schlep to Broadway. That is my opinion. If you don’t happen to agree with it....F**K YOU, MOTHERF***KER’S! I GOT KIDS TO FEED!
Tonight (if you can believe my fancy ass) I will actually be returning to Carnegie Hall - second night in a row - for an evening I am calling “RANDY’S BACK! LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL”. Interestingly enough, Carnegie Hall is not using that title. They are instead calling it "An Evening of Music and Comedy with Family Guy's Alex Borstein and Seth MacFarlane". I hear Patti LuPing-Pong will be making a special appearance! I'M SADADA-DA-GA-I-GA-HOLLA-WAAAAH! (That's Patti LuPone for "I'm so excited, I can hardly wait!" But you knew that.)