by Jim Ridley
In recent months, the Encore channels have been showing Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, a feature-length documentary about the most polarizing figure in comedy ever. Love or hate Le Jer — and you'll find us carrying banners in the "love" parade — the doc makes a solid case for Lewis as a technical innovator, a restless talent, and a savvy and exacting director. One of the doc's closing notes is that Lewis is putting the finishing touches on a Broadway-bound stage musical of his best-known vehicle, 1963's The Nutty Professor.
Now comes word, as of last night's gala TPAC season preview, that The Nutty Professor 3.0 will make its world premiere with a run at TPAC's Polk Theatre July 24-Aug. 19. It arrives with an impressive pedigree: music by Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), book and lyrics by Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood and, yes, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"), and most promising of all, direction by Lewis himself.
Actor and singer Michael Andrew, a familiar face from Lewis' Labor Day telethons of recent years, will handle the dual role of nebbishy Prof. Julius Kelp and his sleazeball alter ego Buddy Love. The production also plans to hold local auditions for both major and ensemble roles. It's been some time since Nashville hosted one of these blockbuster-in-training trial runs (remember the Johnny Mercer revue Dream with Lesley Ann Warren?), where audiences can watch the play change and develop in public. As the clip above shows, Lewis has had The Nutty Professor in the works for years, with Andrew in mind.
Single tickets go on sale April 27, though subscribers to the 2012-13 season can purchase tickets now by clicking here or calling (615) 782-6560. They could be the theatrical equivalent of a blue-chip stock. Below, the full press release from TPAC.
MUSICAL MADE FROM THE CLASSIC MOVIE
“THE NUTTY PROFESSOR” COMES TO NASHVILLE
FOR WORLD PREMIERE
JERRY LEWIS will direct a new musical based his classic romantic comedy
to provide rare pre-Broadway experience with multi-week run at
TPAC’s Polk Theater this summer
MUSICAL CITY – Nashville and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) will play host this summer to the historic world premiere of “The Nutty Professor” Musical, a new musical comedy directed by the King of Comedy himself, Jerry Lewis.
The Broadway at TPAC Special Event will run from July 24 to August 19 in TPAC’s James K. Polk Theater. Featuring music by Oscar®, Emmy®, Tony® and Pulitzer Prize winner Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) and a book and lyrics by three-time Tony® Award winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), “The Nutty Professor” is a musical treat for the whole family, based on the classic 1963 film in which Lewis starred and co-wrote.
Actor, singer, and entertainer Michael Andrew will star in this new production as Professor Julius Kelp. Andrew, who counts Lewis and the film as principal influences on his career, worked with Executive Producer Ned McLeod and Lewis to bring the production to the stage. Mac Pirkle, co-founder and former Artistic Director for Tennessee Repertory Theater, is also producing.
Inspired by the film, recently named one of the top 100 comedies of the century by the American Film Institute, the musical follows geeky chemistry Professor Kelp, who concocts a formula to turn himself into the ultimate heartthrob. Utilizing elements of classic comedy, the creators of “The Nutty Professor” are working to redefine what an American musical comedy can be—funny with a fabulous score and characters that resonate with the audience.
“The film that I made in 1963 was so good that I decided to do a Broadway show. And there’s no better place to go to find out what you’ve got than Nashville. This musical will be spectacular for a couple of reasons. One, I’m directing it,” Lewis said with his signature sense of humor. “Two, I have Michael Andrew, who is one of the best talents to come down the pike in 50 years. And I’m surrounding him with one of a kind creative people, like Marvin Hamlisch, Rupert Holmes, and me…After it’s over, give me a call and let me know if everything I said was spot on.”
"Music is truly an international language and it has the ability to bring people together like nothing else... except comedy,” said Marvin Hamlisch. “It's a thrill to be working with Jerry Lewis, a true king of comedy, and bringing this classic story to life on Broadway with music."
"Jerry Lewis has been my hero from boyhood, not only as one of the most gifted entertainers of all time but also as one of the grand masters of movie-making,” said Rupert Holmes. “To work with Jerry and the vivid cast of characters he created is a privilege and thrill beyond measure.”
“All Broadway shows start somewhere. With Nashville’s community of creative professionals and its passionate theatergoers, it’s the perfect place for this major event,” said Kathleen O’Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer of TPAC. “We’re excited to provide audiences the rare opportunity to be part of the creation of a Broadway musical before it premieres in New York. As the production develops, audiences may see scenes, lines, or whole songs added or removed. Those seeing the show the first week and again the last week will see a real evolution of the production.”
Having the new musical production in Nashville for seven weeks is expected to bring large numbers of both residents and visitors downtown and generate additional economic activity.
“Nashville has a strong and well-deserved reputation for cultural and performing arts and as a place for the creation of art, music and theater,” said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “We are honored to host Jerry Lewis and his new musical production, as its premiere here further underscores that Music City is a place for artists to create and succeed. I am grateful for the opportunities this production will give to the pool of highly talented local actors and others in the theater business that are here, and, once open, I look forward to the energy and economic activity the show will add to our downtown area.”
Producers are planning to hold auditions in both New York City and in Nashville and hope to cast local actors in lead roles and in the ensemble. Local costuming and set craftsmen are also expected to be involved as the production is built and tested over the multi-week run.
Single tickets to “The Nutty Professor” will go on sale April 27th. However, groups and individuals who purchase season tickets to the 2012-13 HCA/TriStar Broadway Series at TPAC, can purchase tickets now by visiting www.tpac.org/broadway, or calling TPAC Subscriber Services at (615) 782-6560; (800) 410-4216 if you live outside the Nashville area. You may also visit the TPAC Box Office at 505 Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville. For group tickets, call the TPAC Group Sales Office at (615) 782-4060.