Arts & Culture
Comedy Legend Jerry Lewis Unveils His New Musical in Nashville
Comedy legend and film icon, Jerry Lewis, pulled back the curtain on Wednesday on his theatrical production of “The Nutty Professor” Musical, which has arrived in Nashville for its pre-Broadway World Premiere at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
The new musical comedy, which Lewis is directing, is based on his 1963 comedy, in which geeky chemistry Professor Julius Kelp concocts a formula to turn himself into the ultimate heartthrob and win the affection of the stunning Stella Purdy. The film achieved international success and was named in the American Film Institute’s “100 Years… 100 Laughs” list of the top 100 comedies of the 20th Century.
“The film that I made in 1963 was so good that I decided to do a Broadway show. And there is no better place to go to find out what you’ve got than Nashville,” Lewis said. “It will be spectacular. After it’s over, give me a call and let me know if everything I said was spot on.”
To make “The Nutty Professor” Musical spectacular, Lewis collaborated with Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line), winner of Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize, for the music and three-time Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) for the book and lyrics. The musical hopes to make its Broadway debut next year.
"Music is truly an international language and it has the ability to bring people together like nothing else... except comedy,” Hamlisch said. “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 Holmes. “To work with Jerry and the vivid cast of characters he created is a privilege and thrill beyond measure.”
“The Nutty Professor” Musicalwill run in TPAC’s James K. Polk Theater from July 31 to August 19, after a week of preview performances from July 24 to July 29. Preview performances give theatergoers the rare opportunity to help shape a new work, as theirenergy, reactions, and laughter tell the creative team and cast what to tweak. Tickets prices for this week are also lower.
“All Broadway shows start somewhere, and Nashville is 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 special treat of being part of the creation of a Broadway musical before it premieres in New York. As the production evolves, audiences may see small changes in the show between the first week and the last week.”
“It is a privilege to welcome the legendary Jerry Lewis and his impressive creative team to Nashville, and we are looking forward to seeing this new musical production of ‘The Nutty Professor’ unveiled here at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center this summer,” said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “A world premiere event of this magnitude is not only a treat for theatergoers but an affirmation of Music City’s well-deserved reputation as a leader in the creative arts. We wish Jerry and the production the best of luck as they prepare the show for Broadway, and hope they enjoy their stay.”
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.
In addition to McLeod and Pirkle, there are several Nashville-connected talents featured in the musical. Stephen Kummer (conductor), and all but one of the musicians in the show’s orchestra are from Nashville. JoAnn Hunter (choreographer), Ray Roderick (assistant director) Ray Roderick, and three of the musical’s ensemble have professional and personal connections to the city. Significant portions of the scenery, properties, wardrobe, and make-up work also are being created in Nashville.
Tickets for “The Nutty Professor” Musical are on sale now and available at tpac.org, by calling (615) 782-4040, or visiting the TPAC Box Office at 505 Deaderick Street in Nashville. For group tickets, call the TPAC Group Sales Office at (615) 782-4060.
The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank will be the presenting sponsor for the production’s Nashville world premiere.
Follow“The Nutty Professor” Musical online at: www.nuttyprofessormusical.com
JERRY LEWIS, Director
Jerry Lewis has been called "The King Of Comedy", the "Consummate Entertainer" and is one of the most recognized people on earth. As the writer, director, and producer of many of his feature films, Jerry Lewis is a comic auteur firmly in the tradition of Chaplin and Keaton. Performing since he was 5 (with his parents in the Catskills), Lewis has been a successful star in every entertainment medium. By the late '40's, with stage shows and regular radio and television appearances, Lewis and his performing partner, Dean Martin, were hailed as the most popular comedy duo in the nation. They made their film debut in 1949 and starred in 13 blockbuster comedies before their split in 1956. Lewis went on to star in over 25 films, 13 of which he directed including The Bellboy, The Ladies' Man, The Family Jewels, and The Nutty Professor. In the 80's, Lewis garnered some of the best reviews of his career for his work in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy and also appeared in the major studio films Mr. Saturday Night and Funny Bones. Jerry Lewis realized a lifelong dream when he starred on Broadway as Applegate in the successful 1994 revival of Damn Yankees. His 185 "standing room" performances were adored by audiences and critics. He went on to tour with the show and during its 2nd year, the tour broke all attendance records of any previous traveling Broadway production. Lewis received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 81st Academy Awards. Star and director of many hit films, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, French Legion of Honor inductee, recording artist, composer, professor, maestro, inventor of the video assist, and author of The Total Filmmaker, and Dean and Me, Jerry Lewis is an American Icon and an International treasure.
MARVIN HAMLISCH, Music
Marvin Hamlisch's life in music is notable for its great versatility as well as substance. As composer, Hamlisch has won virtually every major award that exists: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards; his groundbreaking show, A Chorus Line, received the Pulitzer Prize. He is the composer of more than forty motion picture scores including his Oscar-winning score and song for The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for The Sting, for which he received a third Oscar. His prolific output of scores for films include original compositions and/or musical adaptations for Sophie's Choice, Ordinary People, The Swimmer, Three Men and A Baby, Ice Castles, Take The Money and Run, Bananas, and Save The Tiger, The Informant, and countless more. Marvin Hamlisch holds the position of principal pops conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and San Diego Symphony. Mr. Hamlisch was Musical Director and arranger of Barbra Streisand's 1994 concert tour of the U.S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert(for which he received two of his Emmys). Hamlisch is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music and Queens College (where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree). He believes in the power of music to bring people together.
RUPERT HOLMES, Book & Lyrics
Broadway: Curtains, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Tony Awards to Holmes for Book, Music and Lyrics; Tony to Edwin Drood for Best Musical; identical honors New York Drama Desk; Outer Critics Circle, Best Musical), Accomplice (Edgar Award, Mystery Writers of America), Solitary Confinement, Say Goodnight Gracie (National Broadway Theatre Award, Best Play; Tony nom., Best Play). Off-B'way: Twelfth Night(NYSF, original music). Regional: Marty (score by Strouse and Adams, Huntington, Boston), Solitary Confinement (Kennedy Center). Television: created and wrote Emmy award-winning series Remember WENN. Novels for Random House: Where the Truth Lies (Booklist Top Ten Debut Crime Novel; Best American Mystery Novel 2004, Nero Wolfe nom.), Swing (San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Fiction). For Curtains, Mr. Holmes received the 2007 NY Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book for a Musical.
MICHAEL ANDREW, Professor Julius Kelp/Buddy Love
Michael has enjoyed performing lead roles in many regional theatre musicals and comedies, but the dual character Jerry Lewis created in The Nutty Professor is one closest to his heart and performing in this show is the fulfillment of his lifelong dream. Michael has performed from coast-to-coast, including two years at the world famous Rainbow Room in New York City, and at Merv Griffin’s “Coconut Club” in The Beverly Hilton. He has performed at presidential inaugural balls, in motion pictures, and alongside many of the country’s finest symphony orchestras. Please visit www.michaelandrew.com
MARISSA MCGOWAN, Stella Purdy
Broadway: A Little Night Music Revival with Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury (Original Cast Recording), Bonnie and Clyde (Original Cast Recording) Les Miserables (Revival and National Tour) where she performed both the roles of Eponine and Cosette. Favorite regional: The Sound of Music (Maria), Lyric Theatre; Camelot (Guenevere), Big River (Mary Jane) Goodspeed; Sweeney Todd (Johanna), Geva Theatre; Love According to Luc (Luc), Greenwich Street Theatre; ...FORUM (Philia), Kiss Me Kate (Lois/Bianca) GYPSY (June),Weston Playhouse. Numerous NYC workshops and readings. BFA in musical theater from Syracuse University. www.marissamcgowan.com, @blondemcg