Actor's lowdown on Jerry Springer musical
It’s outrageous, controversial and it’s here. Jerry Springer The Opera arrives in Norwich and stars west Norfolk actor Trevor Jary. Sarah Hardy asks him what all the fuss is about.
Its reputation goes before it. everyone has heard of Jerry Springer The Opera and most have an opinion about it, with many considering it blasphemous and basically downright offensive.
But Trevor Jary, from King's Lynn, who stars as a transvestite called Tremont and the Angel Gabriel, fails to understand why people are getting so hot under the collar about this award-winning show.
But, at this point, it must be said that the language in it is very strong and not for the faint-hearted. If you find swearing unpleasant, then this simply isn't the show for you. It does, however, perhaps to the younger generation, wash over you after a while.
The musical starts as the audience drops in on a Jerry Springer show with all its hideous guests. The eponymous star, beautifully played by American Rolf Saxon, is having a bad day which gets worse when he's accidentally shot by his warm-up guy, again very strongly played by Dean Hussain.
Jerry slips into unconsciousness and dreams that he is in hell and is caught in a battle between Jesus and the Devil - and it's here, in the second half, that problems with people's perceptions begin.
A mincing Jesus is portrayed as rather petulant child who is instructed to grow up by Springer. Mary is told that she was “raped by God” and she rants at Jesus saying that he abandoned her by dying on the cross. Eventually God, as Elvis, of course, has to intervene to try and sort out the problems between him and Satan.
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Ultimately, however, Springer saves himself by declaring that there's no right or wrong in the world and that people have to accept each other's differences and “get over it, y'know”.
On one level, it's a frivolous piece but, if you listen to the lyrics, you realise that it is really rather clever.
Indeed, the show's producers are keen to point out that it is a satire, that it actually highlights just how awful and potentially damaging shows such as the Springer one can be.
Trevor agrees. “Jerry isn't shown as a hero, quite the opposite,” he says. “We're actually agreeing with much that the protesters say.”
On a personal level, Trevor has no strong religious beliefs. “As I child, I was brought up as a member of the Church of England but now I don't really follow any faith. But I'm certainly not a lover of religious groups who practise hatred.”
But for him, on a professional level, this is a great show to be a part of it. It's been a huge hit on both Broadway and in the West End and he's now on tour in Britain until July.
He plays transvestite Tremont and gets to wear some gloriously garish outfits plus bucketloads of make-up. As you'd expect Tremont is really quite a pathetic character but Trevor gives his all. “It's great fun although my dad wasn't too sure when he heard about the role - he loved it when I was playing Elvis, though!”
Trevor, 29, was born in Lynn and went to Gaywood Park High School, now known as Park High, and his parents, Trevor and Andrea, still live in Wootton Road in the town.
A career in the music world always seemed on the cards as Trevor says he loved to sing around the house and that music was usually playing somewhere, too. “My dad loved to listen to music, pieces like Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and mum says that I sang along to Pink Floyd records.
“I think I had a natural ear for music. I liked to add bits in and I could pick up and play instruments easily, as well.”
He attended local drama groups and clubs in the town, such as the King's Lynn Players, and the work quickly came in. “I did think of college but I was working so there didn't seem much point.”
Trevor was in a boy band called The One for three years after winning a GMTV competition when he was in his late teens which he recalls with mixed feelings.
“It was great fun - for a while. We toured with all the big names of the time - Boyzone, East 17 and Peter Andre. People imagine that it's really great and it is for about two weeks. Then you realise that it's just hotel after hotel and it gets very sterile. You end up just thinking 'thank God' that you're out of the van after a while.”
As an actor, Trevor has continued to spend much of his time on the road. Recently, he has enjoyed a great deal of success in the West End in shows such as Pharoah, Joseph and Jesus Christ Superstar and he also starred in the London production of Jerry Springer The Opera.
As he spent so much time on tour, Trevor knows the importance of looking after his health. He goes to the gym every day and tries to eat healthily. “I like to keep active and I'm always listening to music. I guess I have phases on things - it's ebay at the moment!”
He's very much the social secretary of the company, organising plenty of outings, such as clay-pigeon shooting at Loch Lomond when the show was in Glasgow and ski-ing when they were appearing in Aberdeen and, yes, he's planning a few good nights out in Norwich.
“I'll be staying at home as my mum likes me to and says all the usual things about wanting to feed me up and everything. But when I was younger, we used to come to Norwich for our big nights out so I'll have to show the cast a few good places.”
He's also working on two new albums but doesn't want to be drawn on what he'd really like to do next, saying that he might “jinx” it.
“I'd like to work with Judi Dench, Michael Gambon and Patrick Stewart, they are really people at the top of their games and you'd learn so much from them,” Trevor says.
The stage remains his preferred place of work but he admits that television appearances can be very rewarding, both financially and by way of raising your profile.
“But you do worry about the next job - that feeling is always there,” he says.
And while getting married and having children isn't something that he dismisses, he does say that it would be difficult with his current lifestyle. “I'd want the children to be with me as, otherwise, what would be the point?”
t Jerry Springer The Opera opens at the Theatre Royal, Norwich, on Monday May 8 and runs until Saturday May 13. Tickets are from £5. More details are available on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
CRITICISM OF STAGE SHOW 'RIDICULOUS'
American actor Rolf Saxon stars as TV chat show host Jerry Springer.
He also dismisses criticism of the show, describing it as “ridiculous”.
He reckons: “It's from people who have not seen the show. If they have seen it and don't like it then that's fair enough but most of the complaints come from those who haven't watched it.
“I read the script and there were a couple of things that I wondered if they could get away with. But people need to remember that it's a show, that it's entertainment.”
Rolf, who has been based in Britain for 30 years, continues: “It has the basic premise that you should do to others as you would want done to yourself. It's saying that you shouldn't hurt people which is a good message in my books.
“It's actually having a go at programmes like the Springer show. You could say that it's ultimately a modern day morality show.”