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U.S. production of <I>Jerry Springer</I> opera targeted by evangelicals (15282)

15282Entertainment News2005-03-01

U.S. production of Jerry Springer opera targeted by evangelicals

A planned Broadway run of trash TV-inspired musical Jerry Springer--the Opera is in doubt after pressure from an evangelical Christian group, the show's producer said Monday. Avalon Promotions said one of the financial backers of a New York production slated to open later this year pulled out after the show was targeted by Christian Voice, a Wales-based religious organization that opposes abortion, homosexuality, Sunday trading, and British membership in the European Union.

Last April, Jerry Springer producers announced that the $13.9 million production would open on Broadway this fall, although no date or New York venue was announced. Producers said a British tour scheduled for later this year would go ahead, although one venue--the Derby Playhouse in central England--has pulled out. Creators of the musical, inspired by Springer's trashy American TV talk show, say it grapples with issues of good, evil, and personal responsibility. But some Christians have been angered by its hundreds of expletives, parade of lowlifes, and depiction of Jesus Christ in a diaper admitting he is a "bit gay."

Jerry Springer opened to rave reviews at the National Theatre in April 2003 and transferred to the Cambridge Theatre last October for a commercial West End run that ended February 19. The show has won several awards, including best new musical at the 2004 Olivier Awards. But it gained new notoriety, and attracted the ire of religious conservatives, when it was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp. in January. The BBC said it had received 40,000 complaints before the show was aired.

Last week a Scottish cancer charity, Maggie's Centres, turned down $5,760 raised by a charity performance of the show after Christian Voice threatened to protest outside the charity's premises. David Soul, who played Springer in the West End production, accused the religious group of "strong-arm, mob-style tactics." But Christian Voice director Stephen Green said Maggie's had avoided a "potential public relations disaster of profiting from filth and blasphemy." (AP)

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