Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Jerry Springer Opera

Liecster Square is a touristy, trendy, yet charming little area on the West Side of London.  The actual square is fountain surrounded by statues and hand prints of movie stars.  Charlie Chaplain stands above a few bendies and Sir Sean Connery, Jude Law, Patrick Swayze and  host of others have had thier hands immortalized in gold-colored cement.

Liecester Square is at the heart of the theatre scene in London as well.  Everywhere you look there are advertisements for shows, and more importantly, discount tickets for those shows.  It was here that I found two relatively cheap tickets to the Jerry Springer Opera.

I had arrived in London's Victoria Station via Gatwick Airport the day before.  Finding the hostel, which turned out to be on the Northwest side of Hyde Park turned out to be something of a trick.  However, after refusing to attempt the underground on my first day, my aching feet and back were able to finally relax at the hostel.

That night I met a fascinating 26 year-old woman named Rebecca.  We talked for hours and she mentioned seeing and liking the Jerry Springer Opera.  Now, she was not the kind of person you would guess was a fan of Springer, so I asked her to tell me about it.  At three in the morning, we parted company with the agreement that I would try to get tickets the following day.

And so, after a brief phone conversation with my sister, an attempt at sleep despite the 5:00AM arrival of my roommates, and a narrowly missed free breakfast, I was off in search of tickets.  While tickets were the priority, there was also the small matter of where to stay that night. The Hyde Park Hostel was expensive and I olny booked it for one night.  My hope was that I would be able to contact a friend in London (Lauren) and stay with her.  But first things first: tickets.

I asked in one shop and the man said £35 or £40.  The conversion rate is nearly 2-1 so that meant $70 or $80.  I knew I could do better.  I went to the official TKTS booth where they advertised £27.5 or $55.  On I searched.  I saw sign with a huge banner reading: "Jerry! Jerry!"  Ah!  A clue Sherlock!  In that shop: £20 or $40.  I thought I would get two tickets, and give one to Lauren (if I ever got a call through to her).  When the clerk called to get my tickets, the voice on the other end informed her that £20 tickets were sold out, but she still had a few for £25.  I decided to splurge.

Several hours later, I had successfully contacted Lauren and was on my way out to see her.  After a few tubes followed by a few busses,, I found myself in an area of Northeastern London called Angel.  Angel is to London as the Bronx is to New York, very ethnically diverse, and predominantly low-income.  I found her flat with little trouble and was astonished by how nice it was.  Two big bedrooms, a big bathroom, living room, dining room, and a kitchen.  Nice view, nice furniture, nice flat.  We chatted for a while and then decided to go.

The show started at 8:30.  We took a bus into the West End theater district.  I have trouble reading my watch.  So we sat down to have dinner at an Indian restaurant only to see we only had 10 minutes 'till curtain.  We apologized, got up and went to a coffee shop to get a pre-made sandwich.  7 minutes.  The clerk apologized for his lack of familiarity with the register stating that he had just transferred.  This, of course, was after he had left us standing for what seemed like and eternity as he finished a conversation with a coworker. Finally, we paid and told him to forget the water we had asked for. We rushed out of the store and sat in the middle of a traffic circle to enjoy our sandwiches. 2 minutes.  We didn't bother to finish chewing when we got up and darted into the theatre.

We took our seats and as the lights went down, the woman in front of us shouted "Jerry! Jerry!"  It was a harbinger of things to come.  The show opens with the cast who are all decked out in , shall we say white trashed-out clothing, chanting in Gregorian fashion, these extremely complicated harmonics and inspired runs of melody on the word 'Jerry'.  An exaggerated hit on the 'J' was the only clue of the ridiculousness that was to come.

They slowly come down the stairs and begin to, still in Operatic Gregorian style, sing thins like 'chick with a dick' and make crude and vulgar references to to all manner of socially and sexually deviant acts.  The Gregorian suddenly transforms into a rock opera.  The unruly, spotlight-seeking nature of the real Jerry Springer audience is masterfully captured by the cast.

So as not to give anything away, I will simply say that the first act ends with a full Broadway tap number performed by the KKK in front of a burning cross.  The second act is so amazingly irreverent that I am at a loss for words.  All I can say is that I am glad Lauren and I had a beer at intermission.

After the show we went to Lauren's favorite Kabob place and finally back to her house.  The bus ride back was the English version of a Springer audience.  A few girls decked out in part Goth-schoolgirl, and part raver, complete with extacy pacifier with blinking lights.  Also some socially conservative black cockney guys who's most memorable comment was: "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."